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Football: Lausanne and FC Zurich prepare for historic cup final

Lausanne and FC Zurich will contest the 75th Swiss Cup final on Sunday, the last to be played at the national stadium in Berne before the bulldozers move in. The Wankdorf stadium will be rebuilt later this year, adding extra spice to Sunday's showdown.

With the league championship already decided in Sankt Gallen's favour, the cup final is the last domestic trophy up for grabs and will also determine which Swiss teams compete in Europe next season. A place in the UEFA cup would mark an incredible turnaround for FC Zurich, who are still involved in a relegation battle in the league.

But if Gilbert Gress's side lose the final, their fans will have two causes for regret. Because Lausanne have already qualified for Europe, their 'second' qualifying place as cup winners would automatically go to the team who finish fourth in the league - which is almost certain to be FC Zurich's city rivals, Grasshoppers Zurich.

Grasshoppers fans will be pleased to know that Lausanne are the firm favourites. The club from canton Vaud have won the cup for the last two years running and are now looking to complete a rare hat trick. Only Grasshoppers themselves (1940-43, 1988-90) and Sion (1995-97) have ever won three Swiss Cups in a row.

Lausanne will also arrive at the Wankdorf on a great run of form, having won their last five matches. But manager Pierre-André Schürmann does have a few difficult selection issues to resolve.

Schürmann is unable to call upon Marcin Kuzba, who is suspended after being yellow-carded in the semi-finals. The Polish striker has scored seven of Lausanne's 14 goals in this year's cup campaign. The club's highly impressive central defender Eduardo Magnin is also out with an injury.

Magnin's absence could prove to be FC Zurich's greatest opportunity. Since the arrival of Gilbert Gress the side have looked at their strongest in attack. South African Shaun Bartlett will be looking to build on the semi-final hat trick he scored during Zurich's extra-time mauling of Lucerne. Behind Bartlett, Kawelaschwili, Ndlovu, Chassot and Frick will offer Gress plenty of variation upfront.

The defensive team of Stocklasa, Tsawa and Del Signore have been less inspiring this season, though, all of which could make for an entertaining goal-rich game. FC Zurich fans won't want to be reminded that the only cup final they ever lost was against Lausanne in 1981. But for neutral fans a repeat of that year's 4-3 scoreline would be a fitting way to say goodbye to the old Wankdorf.


by Mark Ledsom

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