With our boys finally set to get the ball rolling ahead of the new season against Grasshopper Club Zurich this evening, we’re on hand to give you the important facts and stats about the Swiss Super League giants. So sit back, relax, and let TIA give you the low down on all you need to know.
Full Name: Grasshopper Club Zurich
Stadium: Letzigrund, capacity 25,000, opened 2007.
Home Colours: Blue and white
Main Rivals: FC Zurich
Official Website: www.gcz.ch
It seems somewhat appropriate that our new boss Roy Hodgson should face Grasshopper Club Zurich (commonly referred to as Grasshoppers) as his first game in charge. Roy is certainly no stranger to Grasshoppers, having held the managerial reins there for the 1999-2000 season. It seems even more appropriate when we consider that Roy also spent another thirteen additional years managing in the Swiss Super League with Orebro, Malmo FF, and Neuchâtel Xamax. Not to mention a three year spell at the helm of the Swiss national team.
Despite Roy not winning any silverware during his spell with Grasshoppers, you would be wrong to think this is a club without a long and proud history of winning trophies. Boasting a whopping 27 Swiss Super League titles, 18 Swiss Cups, 2 Swiss League Cups, and 1 Swiss Super Cup, their history is not dissimilar to our own. The club has recently fallen on harder times however. In contrast to their history of Swiss domination, they haven’t managed to capture any silverware since 2003 when they won their last league title, instead having to watch FC Basel and city sharing rivals FC Zurich both emerging once again as dominant forces in Swiss football. Grasshopper fans will no doubt take some solace in the fact that they’ve been in this situation before and did then manage a return to former glory; the team went through a fifteen year baron spell between winning Swiss league titles in 1956 and 1971. Fans will no doubt hope that a similar return to their title winning days is around the corner.
Highlights: Grasshoppers 4-1 FC Basel, May 24, 2009
The club’s main rivals are FC Zurich, with whom they contest the only real local derby in Swiss football, and with whom they are also currently sharing a stadium. Grasshoppers are currently leading in the derby record, with 103 wins to FC Zurich’s 70. There have only been 37 draws in the derby’s history.
In Europe, Grasshoppers have not been quite so successful. Despite having been fairly regular faces on the European scene, the club has not yet managed to get their hands on any European trophies. Nevertheless, fans of the club will perhaps point to the 1978 UEFA Cup, where the team managed to reach the semi-final before being knocked out by French side Sporting Club de Bastia as one of the highlights in their European history. It’s worth noting that there is a small chance that we will face Grasshopper at some point during our Europa League travels this season as they start their own European campaign in the play-off stage where they will be joining us in trying to secure a place in the group stage.
Some Liverpool fans might be able to think back to the summer of 2006 when Grasshoppers defeated us 2-0 during a similar pre-season friendly in Zurich, with goals from David Blumer and then-youngster Veroljuib Salatic. Whilst Blumer has since left the club, 24-year old midfielder Salatic is still with them and may be in line to play against us on Wednesday.
Grasshoppers’ leading goal scorer for the previous season was Argentine Gonzalo Zaraté, who left the club for Salzburg in May. They do however have a noteworthy young forward in Endogan Adili, who at 15 years old managed to become the youngest goal scorer in a top European league since World War II earlier this year when he netted against FC Aarau in the Swiss Super League.
Their skipper is 33-year old defender Boris Smiljanic who has played for the club twice, first from 1993 to 2002, before departing to FC Basel, and then returning to Grasshopper in 2007. The strongest part of the team could arguably be the defence, which managed to concede less goals in the Swiss Super League than any other team last season, helping the club to achieve a respectable third place finish.
There you have it, everything you need to know about our Swiss friends from Zurich. Enjoy the match and come back soon as we continue our pre-season by taking a good look at German outfit FC Kaiserslautern, who we face on Saturday July 24th.
Article compiled by forums member ‘SharkybutnotGeorge’.