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Football: St Gallen prepare for second attempt at title

Sankt Gallen, the runaway leaders of the Swiss football league, will have a second chance to win the championship this weekend, starting with their game on Friday away to Lucerne.

Last weekend, Marcel Koller's team could have clinched the title with a win over their nearest rivals, Basel. But instead they lost 3-1, making for some slightly more complicated mathematics this weekend.

A win over Lucerne this evening would put the pressure back on Basel, who would then have to win at Servette Geneva on Sunday. Anything other than a Basel victory would see St Gallen celebrating their first Swiss championship since 1904. Even if St Gallen can only manage a draw tonight, Basel would also need at least a point on Sunday to keep their own slim title hopes alive.

Should St Gallen need any more inspiration going into tonight's match they might choose to reflect on their previous encounter with Lucerne, which ended in a 7-1 thrashing for Andy Egli's men. The Lucerne trainer clearly has revenge in mind, though. "We are determined to prevent St Gallen becoming champions this weekend," he vowed this week.

Unsurprisingly, St Gallen's manager is sticking to the line that he has trotted out repeatedly this season. "We must concentrate purely on the ball," he insists. "So far we have won nothing."

Such level-headed management has been integral to the success of the east Swiss side this season. But Koller will know, just as the eager St Gallen fans do, that a win tonight will see the club just a whisker away from winning the biggest prize in Swiss football.

By Mark Ledsom

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