Now a second division side back in Switzerland, it has been nine years since FC Lausanne-Sport last competed in Europe, reaching the semi-finals of the 2001 UEFA Intertoto Cup.
Given what has happened since then, the club have done remarkably well to still have a chance of competing in this season's UEFA Europa League group stage. Their 1-1 home draw against FC Lokomotiv Moskva might have ended better, but as the play-off decider approaches Lausanne continue to thank their lucky stars.
At the end of the 1990s they were regarded as one of Switzerland's top sides. They regularly competed for the league championship, won the 1998 and 1999 Swiss Cups and beat the likes of AFC Ajax and FC Torpedo Moskva in UEFA competition. Although the last of their seven national titles was won in 1965, their reputation as a solid side remained.
That all changed in 2002 when financial problems led to the club's relegation to the second division. A year later similar issues meant they sank even further, into the fourth tier. Lausanne-Sports were forced to file for bankruptcy before being reformed as Lausanne-Sport.
Three years on the new club are back up to the second division, playing in the UEFA Europa League as last season's beaten Swiss Cup finalists. They lost 6-0 to FC Basel 1893 in that game but their reputation is steadily improving, thanks in part to a fine youth system which has produced the likes of Nassim Ben Khalifa, who recently joined VfL Wolfsburg.
This season Martin Rueda's side have won their first five league games and eliminated FK Borac Banja Luka and Randers FC to set up this play-off against Lokomotiv, in which they had the better of the 1-1 first-leg draw. "We put in a good performance against big opponents," said the 47-year-old Rueda. "To be honest we deserved a better result."
They will look to achieve just that at the Lokomotiv Stadium. "The players always believe they can achieve something and in Moscow they will all give 100%," added the coach, whose only top-flight experience was a brief spell at FC Aarau. Win or lose in Russia, Lausanne can still be proud according to Rueda, who added: "We have done so much for our reputation already."
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