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Swiss clubs begin European adventure

Can Grasshoppers bounce back from their Champions League disappointment?

(Keystone Archive)

Three Swiss football teams will begin their delayed UEFA Cup programme on Thursday, one week after the original schedule was cancelled following the terrorist attacks in the United States.

"Message of hope"

After confirming the new programme, UEFA executives said they hoped that the return to sporting action could help people "move forward" as well as sending out a "message of hope".

UEFA Chief Executive Gerhard Aigner added that a minute's silence would be held at the beginning of each Champions League and UEFA Cup match "as a continued mark of respect for the victims of last week's terrorist attack."

Grasshoppers Zurich

As attention shifts from events off the pitch to those on it, Swiss champions Grasshoppers Zurich will be looking to bounce back from their disappointment in failing to qualify for the Champions League.

After leaping to the top of the Swiss league at the weekend with a 4-1 win over Neuchâtel Xamax, Hans-Peter Zaugg's team look in good shape to cause a possible upset in their opening away leg against Romania's Dinamo Bucharest.

The Zurich club will be without talented young midfielder Ricardo Cabanas who returned from a three-month injury lay-off at the weekend only to tear a ligament in his foot. The 22-year-old is expected to be out of action for around three weeks.

St Gallen

St Gallen are at home to Dinamo's city rivals, the 1986 European Cup winners Steaua Bucharest. Marcel Koller's team have also shown recent improvement in the Swiss league and will be looking to build some kind of lead to take into next week's return game in Romania.

Servette

Swiss Cup winners Servette will also be looking to see off eastern European opponents on Thursday. The Genevan club, who climbed up to second in the league on Monday after beating local rivals Lausanne, begin at home in their tie against Czech team Slavia Prague.

Like Grasshoppers, Servette will be without one of their most influential players, Yugoslav defender Aleksandar Bratic.

After fracturing his left leg during Monday's bad-tempered derby match in Lausanne, Bratic is not likely to play again before the spring.

Swiss internationals Sébastien Fournier and Alexandre Comisetti were also injured in the game against Lausanne but are expected to be available for Thursday's European match.

swissinfo with agencies


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