FC Zürich coach Sami Hyppiä’s sartorial elegance on the touchline has not gone unnoticed but his team lacked the same style and panache as they drew 0-0 away to fellow strugglers Lugano. It was easy to see why the 2009 champions have been underachieving this term as they lacked both a consistent threat and a cutting edge. Although the better team, genuine quality was all too rarely seen and the side do not look like a cohesive unit nine games into the campaign. To add to Hyypiä’s woes, he lost striker Franck Etoundi and midfielder Burim Kukeli to injuries while right winger Kevin Bua was also hobbling in the closing stages after taking a blow to his knee.
FCZ had the majority of the chances and dominated the first half-hour. Chiumiento hit the post while Etoundi went agonisingly close after shrugging off two defenders. The impressive Philippe Koch was also denied by Lugano ‘keeper Russo when a typically maurauding fun forward enabled him to meet Djuric’s defence-splitting ball. Etoundi also hit the side netting towards the end of the first period though Lugano came close themselves when Brecher punched away a fiercely-hit free kick from Sabbatini, who passed the ball well in midfield tonight. Russo stood firm all evening, coming off his line to thwart Schneuwly of whom more should be expected given FCZ’s strength down their left flank. Sabbatini had a second effort stopped by Brechner but as the rain poured down, both sides found it hard to keep control of the ball and build pressure. A late Di Gregorio free kick was as close as either team came in the closing stages.
A point does neither side any good. Lugano have only scored six times in nine league games and while Rossini was lively enough on the left, they lacked a presence up front who could lead the line effectively. Their coach Zdenek Zeman is a byword for gung-ho attacking play but he doesn’t have the players at his disposal to carry out his unique brand of football that has earned him a cult following in Italy and beyond. FC Zürich have the players to be in mid-table but need to gel together – tonight’s injuries won’t help in that regard. Hyypiä hasn’t been that successful in his managerial career to date and has a tough job on his hands on this evening’s evidence even if it could have been so different early on.
In the other game this evening, St. Gallen edged out FC Thun 1-0 courtesy of a late goal from young Roy Gelmi. The 20-year-old’s volley was made all the sweeter after the home goalkeeper Lopar had saved Frontino’s penalty minutes earlier. It was an ideal start for new St. Gallen coach Josef Zinnbauer.
Tomorrow night sees bottom club FC Vaduz host Luzern, Grasshopper look to bounce back from their shock cup exit against Europa League outfit FC Sion and champions FC Basel seek to continue their 100% record when they travel to Bern to take on Young Boys.