martedì 7 settembre 2010

Thun turning back time in Switzerland

From the Axpo Super League’s main underdogs to real dark horses: Newly promoted Thun are undisputedly the biggest surprise in this year’s Swiss championship, riding high as the only unbeaten side left in the league.

Young coach Murat Yakin has so far shown great ability in imposing his mentality on the team and coaxing out performances of note from a group of unheralded players. “Thun have impressed everybody with their brave and beautiful football”. That is the verdict of the local press. Hard work, a never-say-die attitude and, importantly, attacking football, appear to be the secrets of the side’s success.

In truth the club from the canton of Berne have always shown a positive approach to the game. Never more so was this evident than through the way Yakin’s men stopped Swiss giants Basel and Young Boys from steamrollering them, a 1-1 draw in each game was just reward. Thun’s greatest display though came at Neuchatal Xamax; two-nil down, Yakin’s men would not give up and fought back to grab a 3-2 win. It is this strong character which has surprised the Super League. That clubs should have it is not a surprise; that a side just promoted from a division lower do and can display it against the best, is.

It took just one year for Murat Yakin to lead Thun to promotion to the top flight. The 35-year-old centre back, who made his name playing for Grasshopper, Stuttgart, Fenerbahce and Basel, guided his men to the Challenge League title on the final day, overtaking Lugano who had gone into the final set of fixtures with a one-point lead. However, the canton Ticino side could only draw at home to Vaduz, while Thun smashed six past Gossau to win 6-2.

Key players in the club’s promotion success were young midfielder Stiepan Kukuruzovic and Argentine playmaker Ezequiel Scarione. The former left in the summer for Zurich, while the latter continues to play a vital role in Yakin’s 4-2-3-1 system. This season Scarione has cemented his spot as Thun’s most naturally gifted player, scoring twice, providing two assists and regularly displaying trickery on the left flank.

This year, Thun decided to gamble on a host of inexperienced players to maintain their top flight status. German forward Nick Proschwitz, the top scorer in the Challenge League last season with 23 goals, but unproven in any top flight, has been trusted to provide the firepower. On the right flank Dennis Heidiger has his chance and goalkeeper David Da Costa, who began last season on the bench of Chiasso in the Prima Lega – Swiss football’s third tier – was given a vote of confidence. Proschwitz has so far bagged four goals in seven games, while Heidiger and Da Costa are amongst this season’s best performers, along with their flair-filled team-mate Scarione.

Little Thun have enjoyed the spotlight before though, and in 2005 really broke into the big time when they reached the group stages of the Champions League by knocking out Dynamo Kyiv and Malmo in the qualifying rounds. With a budget of just €3M, they were one of the smallest clubs ever to take their place at European football’s top table. “It was a real miracle”, remembered forward Mauro Lustrinelli, at that time the team’s star turn, “if we consider that only nine years earlier Thun were still playing in the third division.” The Swiss minnows were rewarded for their exploits with a group containing Arsenal, Ajax and Sparta Prague; Thun finished third.

However, after the sun came the rain, and when the Champions League bandwagon had rolled on things turned sour for Thun. In 2008 the club were relegated from the Super League and 12 current or former Thun players were involved in a sex scandal, suspected of having sex with a 15-year-old girl. Just one year later the club were also forced to suspend a player suspected of match-fixing.

With the coming of Murat Yakin though, the future once again looks bright for Thun. The club have hit the headlines for all the right reasons and this could be the start of a new and exciting adventure.

Fonte: Inside Futbol

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