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Season review: Switzerland

Published: Monday 10 June 2013, 9.12CET
A fourth straight title for FC Basel 1893 meant Murat Yakin's men equalled BSC Young Boys' feat of five decades ago but Grasshopper Club denied them back-to-back doubles.
by Michael Schifferle
Season review: Switzerland
Basel claimed a fourth successive title ©AFP/Getty Images
Published: Monday 10 June 2013, 9.12CET

Season review: Switzerland

A fourth straight title for FC Basel 1893 meant Murat Yakin's men equalled BSC Young Boys' feat of five decades ago but Grasshopper Club denied them back-to-back doubles.

FC Basel 1893 claimed a fourth straight Swiss championship, a 1-0 win on the last day of term against third-placed FC St Gallen sealing their triumph. As deserved as Basel's title may have been, it was runners-up Grasshopper Club that caught the eye. After just avoiding relegation last season, the young Zurich side could not prevent the favourites celebrating in the end, yet they gained revenge in the cup.

Champions: FC Basel 1893
Basel eventually matched the four-in-a-row record of BSC Young Boys, champions between 1957 and 1960, but the campaign did not all go to plan. A shaky start saw Murat Yakin replace Heiko Vogel as coach, and his team entered the winter break four points behind Grasshoppers. A strong run-in ultimately took them three points clear at the top of the Super League, as Yakin's charges balanced domestic commitments with a march to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals. Yakin earned plaudits for successfully integrating young talents like Fabian Schär, Mohamed Elneny and Mohamed Salah; at the other end of his career, Alexander Frei retired to become FC Luzern sporting director.

Cup final: Grasshopper Club 1-1 (aet, Grasshoppers win 5-4 after penalties)
Since last lifting the Swiss Cup in 1994, Grasshoppers had lost four finals – but they exorcised some of those demons as they stopped Basel registering a double at the Stade de Suisse in Berne. Right-back Markus Steinhöfer broke the deadlock for the league champions before Izet Hajrovic equalised. It came down to penalties, where Fabian Frei and Raúl Bobadilla could not hold their nerve as Grasshoppers prevailed. It was the Zurich team's first trophy since the 2003 Super League crown.

European places*
FC Basel 1893 – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
Grasshopper Club – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
FC St Gallen – UEFA Europa League play-off
FC Zürich – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
FC Thun – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round

*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

©AFP/Getty Images

Stocker starred in Switzerland

Player of the year: Valentin Stocker (FC Basel 1893)
Stocker has shone for several seasons now with his intelligent play, impressive technique and pace going forward. This term the left midfielder stepped up a gear, adding goals to his game. With 11 across all competitions, the 24-year-old Swiss international also chose good times to find the net, like the 2-2 UEFA Europa League quarter-final draw at Tottenham Hotspur FC.

One to watch: Izet Hajrovic (Grasshopper Club)
In the end he scored eight goals, but that could have been many more from one of the big discoveries of the campaign. His quality and potential had long been heralded, yet this was the first time the 21-year-old was consistently able to produce. Not only did he star during the top-flight season, he also notched important goals in the cup semi-final and final.

Surprise package: FC St Gallen
Finishing third, the big shock was that promoted St Gallen were able to mix it with the big boys. They led the table until the beginning of October and never slipped out of the top four. For the first time since 2007, the club are back in Europe under the guidance of ex-Luxembourg international Jeff Saibene and with a side built around attacking midfielder Ezequiel Scarione, the division's 21-goal top marksman.

Leading scorer: Ezequiel Scarione, FC St Gallen (21)

Relegated: Servette FC

Promoted: FC Aarau

Number: 12,059
The average attendance in the Super League, just shy of last term's 12,253, which was a ten-year high.

Quote
"It was difficult but overall it was an outstanding year for us – being able to convince in Europe and at the same time win at domestic level. I do not need to underline that this is particularly special for me, as a new coach."
Basel boss Murat Yakin after securing the championship

Last updated: 23/05/14 16.45CET

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