Nestled in the heart of Europe, Switzerland is a wonderful country known for its chocolate, watches, breathtaking scenery, direct democracy and neutrality among other things. It is also a bastion of multilingualism with four official languages (German, French, Italian and Romansh) recognised in the Swiss Constitution.
When it comes to football, die Nati have been fairly regular tournament participants since 2004, hosting Euro 2008 with Austria and its squad reflects the cosmopolitan nature of the country. The well-travelled polyglot Vladimir Petkovic is on course to guide his adopted country to Euro 2016 in France next summer. The domestic league, the Swiss Super League, has this century been dominated by FC Basel, who have more than put their country on the map with some stellar performances in both the Champions League and Europa League. Basel, whose train station is genuinely international as it is situated in three countries, have become a model for other clubs around Europe. Belgian champions KAA Gent are notably looking to emulate FCB’s success.
Beneath the all-conquering Basel, nine other teams make up the top flight. Young Boys Bern, Grasshopper and FC Zürich all have big fanbases and the league has both developed young Swiss talent and been the first port of call for some top foreign stars. One who is particularly exciting at the moment is Moussa Konaté. The striker plays for current cup holders FC Sion and has attracted interest from across Europe. There are some rather interesting figures managing in Switzerland at the moment – former Liverpool star Sami Hyypiä at FCZ, the cult Zdenek Zeman at Lugano and former FC Bayern playmaker Ciriaco Sforza at FC Thun. Outside of the top flight, historic giants Servette are looking to escape the third tier having been denied a professional licence owing to financial irregularities while Challenge League side FC Lausanne played in Europe a few short years ago.
I hope you will join me on our journey to the heart of Swiss football.