FC Zürich may have made their worst start to a season in eight years, but the 2010/11 Swiss Super League runners-up are not about to give up on their European ambitions without a fight.
Three games into the new Swiss campaign – including two against promoted opponents – Zürich are still point-less and lie second from bottom. Their only respite arrived in last week's first leg of their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie against R. Standard de Liège, as they earned a 1-1 draw in Belgium.
The hope is they can produce the right reaction to Saturday's 2-1 defeat at FC Lausanne-Sport in Wednesday night's decider. "I need to think about what just happened," said coach Urs Fischer after that setback, while sporting director Fredy Bickel added: "I hope the players are just as embarrassed as I am."
That latest loss for the 2009 Swiss champions, who missed out to FC Basel 1893 by a solitary point last term, prompted further bemusement among the coaching staff considering the morale-boosting result against Standard. If far from fluent, Zürich had demonstrated all the fighting spirit, organisation and determination in Belgium that subsequently went missing once more against Lausanne.
"I am currently not able to field a team which is willing to fight," said Fischer. Bickel, while equally concerned, stressed the need for the squad to stick together. "Our passes to the strikers are just not getting there and nobody is running back to defend once we lose possession [but] we can't tear each other apart over this," he said. Experienced full-back Ludovic Magnin echoed those very sentiments: "The criticism is justified – we need to accept it and fight, we have no other choice."
Though the Zürich camp is in an evidently fragile state of mind as the fear of failure looms ever larger, the club can at least draw some solace from a similar situation at the start of the 2009/10 campaign. Slow out of the blocks domestically and beaten at home by NK Maribor in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, Zürich bounced back to reach the group stage.
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