Swiss teams hobble into European action

Servette trainer Lucien Favre is without several key players Keystone Archive

The three Swiss football teams competing in the UEFA Cup this week all go into second round action on Thursday with a number of injury problems to overcome.

This content was published on October 17, 2001 - 14:30

Reigning Swiss champions Grasshoppers Zurich appear to have the least difficulties ahead of their first leg match at home to Dutch team FC Twente. However the absence of injured Swiss international defender Bruno Berner and the likely unavailability of goalkeeper Stefan Huber could give the Zurich club some concern at the back.

Jehle let loose?

If Huber fails to pass a fitness test before the game, young Liechtenstein goalie Peter Jehle is set to deputise. Having been partially blamed for Grasshoppers' defeat in the qualifying stages of the Champions League, Jehle will be looking to make the most of his second chance, if it comes.

Although their opponents are not considered to be among the cream of Dutch football, Twente have built up a reputation for powerful and direct football that could present Hans-Peter Zaugg's team with some challenges.

Challenges are in no short supply for the other two Swiss teams fighting on the European front this week. Servette Geneva and St Gallen are both looking at daunting injury lists going into their tough away fixtures with Spain's Real Zaragoza and Germany's Freiburg respectively.

Depleted defence

Former Swiss champions St Gallen have been hard hit by a number of injuries in defence. As well as long-term casualties Daniel Imhof and Oscar Tato, coach Marcel Koller is without the services of a recovering Marco Walker while Argentinian defender Carlos Chaile has also been ruled out with a torn muscle.

If that weren't enough to worry the St Gallen fans, Swiss international Marc Zellweger is also far from certain to play after injuring his knee in the weekend win over Neuchâtel Xamax.

With goalkeeper Oliver Stöckli, defender Patrick Winkler, and midfielders Stephan Oberli and Patrick Mokoena also nursing slight knocks, Koller might have to make several adjustments to the side which upset Romanian giants Steaua Bucharest in the competition's first round.

Following that win over the former European Cup winners, and last season's shock victory against English Premier League side Chelsea, St Gallen might yet fancy their chances of another impressive win this week.

Despite their injury problems, the Swiss side appear to be in great form at the moment, having gone eight league games without defeat and taking 20 points from a possible 24 during that run.

Freiburg by way of contrast have taken won just nine points in the Bundesliga to date and are currently languishing in 14th position. On Saturday they failed to radically improve their situation after being held to a 2-2 draw at home to bottom side St Pauli.

Suffering Servette

The Servette squad which travels to Zaragoza looks like being even more depleted than that of St Gallen, with half a dozen key players set to miss the first leg match at the Romareda stadium.

After picking up two yellow cards during Servette's first round win over Slavia Prague, influential Brazilian Claiton will also be missing for a match which pits the Swiss Cup winners against the holders of the Spanish Cup.

Swiss internationals Alexandre Comissetti and Léonard Thurre, Bosnian defender Aleksandar Bratic, Swiss forward Maxime Sanou and defender Vitorino Hilton are the other players ruled out.

"With all the best will in the world, I really couldn't tell you what our team line-up will look like," insisted Servette trainer Lucien Favre on Wednesday. "But despite all the absentees and the strength of our opponents, we intend to play our regular game in Zaragoza."

swissinfo with agencies

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