BSC Young Boys hope to return refreshed from a two-week break to seize control of the Swiss title race at the newly-turfed Stade de Suisse Wankdorf.
Second in the ten-team Super League, a point behind leaders FC Basel 1893 but with a game in hand, Young Boys have not played a competitive match since 30 April yet will go top with a win at struggling FC St. Gallen on Saturday. The Berne-based club will stay there if Basel, who lifted the Swiss Cup last weekend, fail to beat FC Sion at home on Sunday.
With their artificial pitch being replaced by a turf one so that the stadium can host UEFA EURO 2008™ games, the capital side will have to get used to the new surface fast with just eight matches remaining. Martin Andermatt's men stand on the verge of a first Swiss championship in 22 years, thanks to their own winning streak and a dire run for Basel.
Certainly, recent results have been stunning. Young Boys' last five league fixtures have produced 3-0, 3-0, 3-0, 4-2 and 4-0 wins, with champions FC Zürich among the vanquished teams. Meanwhile, the disciplinary problems which plagued them earlier in the campaign – they collected six red cards – have been overtaken by the positive aspects of their traditionally passionate approach.
'We are easy-going'
"We have continued to work on our mentality and the statistics show that things have changed," said captain Hakan Yakin. Young Boys' new, composed approach was shown to best effect as they recovered from 2-1 down with five minutes to go to beat local rivals FC Thun 4-2 on 22 March. "We are easy-going and even in that game we did not worry," said Yakin.
Their artificial pitch has tended to make Young Boys a completely different side home and away, yet even that split personality has become less evident. Tunisian defensive marshal Saif Ghezal anchors a rugged rearguard; and, together, 31-year-old Hakan Yakin (18 goals) and 34-year-old local cult hero Thomas Häberli (16) head the Swiss scoring charts.
Nonetheless, coach Andermatt is accepting no title talk, saying: "This season's ambition is third place." Since Young Boys sit eleven points clear of third-placed Zürich, target No1 is well within sight. "I don't want to look too far into the future, I just want to enjoy the moment," said Yakin, surely aware that Young Boys' campaign concludes with what may be a championship decider against his old club Basel.
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