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The FCZ manages to break free against YB

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The FCZ manages to break free against YB

With an early lead and Henriksen football, the FCZ defeated the leader. The Young Boys can’t stop the downward trend, coach Raphael Wicky seems at a loss.

This is how scoring goals works: FCZ player Ifeanyi Mathew (r.) scores against YB after 11 seconds, Rodrigo Conceição (l.) is happy too.

Ennio Leanza / Keystone

Steve von Bergen and Christoph Spycher stand in the stands in Letzigrund with their hands buried in their pockets, silent and expressionless. The YB sports director and the director see FCZ president Ancillo Canepa being hugged and warmed by his sports director Milos Malenovic in boundless euphoria. The FCZ had just won 1-0, after 11 seconds Ifeanyi Mathew scored the only goal, YB could no longer react after that.

After being eliminated from the cup and losing at home to Servette, coach Raphael Wicky’s team suffered their third defeat in a row and are now only one point ahead of the table ahead of the match against FC Basel. The supertanker YB has become a rickety barge sailing in uncertain waters. It is also uncertain what will happen next with Wicky. “We will clarify things in the next few days or weeks,” said von Bergen before the match.

Wicky said he couldn’t explain the uncertainty, “but it’s there.” At least he didn’t look for excuses, but spoke of a difficult phase in which only “working and standing together” would help. “I know that sounds like empty phrases, but I can’t say any more at the moment – ​​it still applies: We want to become champions,” says the YB coach.

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Ganvoula and the YB bad luck

FC Zurich faced an opponent who, after falling behind after just a few seconds, couldn’t think of anything to escape the downward spiral. This was also due to FC Zurich, who drew strength and confidence from Mathew’s goal, which ran through his teammates like a jolt of electricity: The midfielder scored after a courageous rush forward after YB defender Saidy Janko had headed the first high ball into the middle instead of to the side .

The FCZ subsequently had luck on its side when YB striker Silvere Ganvoula hit the post just 70 seconds after going behind. But the FCZ had more heart and fighting strength than their opponents. Even in the final phase, when YB wanted to force the equalizer with the crowbar, the FCZ remained stable and safe.

This was mainly because the FCZ had once again remembered the past in preparation for the match. So back to the times in late summer and autumn when the coach was still called Bo Henriksen and the goal of a football match was to be won. Actually, that goes without saying, but in the last few weeks it has been said again and again in the FCZ that it is now about something else: developing young players, showing dominance, pressing hard. Such things.

The FCZ remembers an old match sheet

That worked poorly. Too many inexperienced players, too many system changes and declining Henriksen positivism took the team off track. The goals didn’t come, then the points, followed by elimination against Winterthur in the cup. So the FCZ let the young players be the young players, the new philosophy the new philosophy and dug out an old match sheet from the archive: The match sheet from November 25th, 3:1 against YB.

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A good three months ago, the FCZ defeated the Young Boys with this result and were leaders. “Maybe it was the best game since I’ve been here,” said FCZ coach Bo Henriksen at the time. An early goal from Jonathan Okita played into the FCZ’s hands, after which the team cleverly defended itself against the YB superiority in the tried and tested 3-4-3 system with wait-and-see counterattack football.

Leader after 15 rounds: how FC Zurich defeated YB in November.


It was a match to frame the lesson in how the individually weaker team can defeat the superior team: with a plan, with relentlessness, with cohesion, led by the experienced players. The FCZ focused on this before the match against YB.

This was particularly evident in central midfield, where FCZ won almost every duel or second ball with Mathew, the best player on the pitch, and Cheick Condé. This prevented YB from being able to develop its combination game and repeatedly making its own mistakes, which the team has rarely seen with this frequency in recent years. Calixte Ligue, Armstrong Oko-Flex or Nevio Di Giusto were missing from the starting lineup.

The FCZ style of play was also reminiscent of Henriksen’s successful football: wait, wait, play quickly forward. If Jonathan Okita and Antonio Marchesano had completed one or two counterattacks with a little more caution, the FCZ could have scored two or three more goals and not have to wait until the final whistle for redemption.

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