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FC VADUZ, the opponents of Nõmme Kalju

Angelo PalmeriComment

As usual, we bring you exclusive profiles of European opponents of the Estonian clubs through precious external contributors.
It's the time of Craig at @SwissFootball who recounts about the Switzerland top-flight action on his blog 'Swiss Domestic Previews' and at his Twitter account, @SwissFootball
Craig has accepted to give us an outlook of FC Vaduz ahead of Thursday clash with Nõmme Kalju

There should be no mistaking that Vaduz are still a minnow when it comes to European football despite playing in a league that has seen its champion produce European heroics over the last few seasons.

While the Swiss league is home to Vaduz, the club come from the capital of Liechtenstein and as winners of the Liechtenstein Cup, they are the sole representation in Europe for their country, a position they find themselves in more often being the highest ranked and best team out of all of the Lichtensteiner teams in the Swiss league system. 

So, Vaduz are no stranger to European competition and have caused some surprises along the way. Their aim is to go further than ever before and that journey began with a comfortable 10-1 aggregate over SP La Fiorita in ties that saw history made with La Fiorita scoring their first-ever European goal through former Italian international and Roma player Damiano Tommasi.

That match was one that Vaduz would themselves overwhelming favourites in and most likely will be the only one that they find themselves in that situation in this campaign.



Vaduz narrowly avoided relegation last season as they went through several bad patches. However, the much poorer form of Aarau was enough to see them stay in the Swiss Super League for a second consecutive season. 

After the brush with relegation, Vaduz have looked to strengthen their squad by bringing in five players. They have also let four players leave the club during this summer with potential deals still be done by the end of the transfer window.

Pascal Schurpf scored in both legs vs. La Fiorita

Pascal Schurpf scored in both legs vs. La Fiorita

Mario Sara at 33 was one of those to leave as he moved back to his native Austria to play for SC Ritzing in the Regionalliga. Sara spent five years at Vaduz but fell out of favour making just eight appearances this season. 

Vinzenz Flatz at twenty years old failed to make the grade while Kwang-Ryong Pak and Hekuran Kryeziu, both of whom made many appearances over the season, both returned to their respective clubs after their loan spells.

In the door comes Mario Buhler played a big part in Wohlen's push for promotion last season and makes the step up. Ali Messaoud transfers from Dutch football and the attacking midfielder managed five goals in twenty-seven appearances in the Eredivisie for Willem II last season. 

Stjepan Kukuruzovic makes the move from Hungarian side Ferencvarous were he made eleven appearances including four in the Europa League. FC Porto youth player Mauro Caballero joins on loan while Robin Kamber makes the move from Basel.

With much of last season's squad sticking together, Vaduz will be hoping that they can perform much better this season.



The team line-up for the first leg against La Fiorita

The team line-up for the first leg against La Fiorita

Vaduz manager Giorgio Contini spent much of the early part of last season figuring out the best formation for his side and it wasn't until Matchday 14 in the Swiss Super League that he found him preferred side.

The opening game of the season saw him line up in a 3-1-4-2 formation before trying out four more formations over the next thirteen games often rotating between those five more formations before settling on a 4-3-3 formation for the visit to Bern to play Young Boys on November 2nd, a match they surprisingly won by a 1-0 scoreline. 

Contini would tinker for the next two matches before sixteen consecutive Super League matches with this formation. It was only the last few matches of the campaign that it would change with a 4-3-1-2 against Luzern, 3-4-3 vs. Zurich and a 4-1-4-1 on the final day of the season. 

It is anyone's guess which formation that Contini will go with on Thursday for the match vs. Kalju. This time last season, he played a 4-2-3-1 vs. College Europa before a 3-1-4-2 in the second leg and a 3-5-2 in their game vs. Ruch Chorzow.

Their games against La Fiorita saw Vaduz employ a 4-4-2 formation in the trip to Serravalle before reverting back to 4-3-3 in the second leg and while it is Contini's most used formation, there is no guarantee it is the one he will use. 

The man between the sticks though will most definitely be Peter Jehle, the thirty-three year old Liechtenstein international has been the Vaduz number one since 2009. He played the first leg vs. La Fiorita and wasn't needed for the second leg with the match already won. He played all but eight games in the league for Vaduz last season and seven of those absences were the result of a torn tendon. 

von Niederhausern or Joel Untersee will be deployed in the right back position with Niederhausern more likely after becoming more favoured over the latter course of the season. Florian Stahel should start in centre back with either Pavel Pergl or Simone Grippo joining him. Pergl featured far less last season at the age of 36 but started and scored in the first leg vs. La Fiorita with Grippo playing in the second leg. Aliji will begin at left back ahead of Cecchini.

As for the more attacking options, Hasler and Ciccone. Scurpf and Lang could be deployed out wide with Sutter and Neumayr favoured up front or if Contini goes with the 4-3-3 then the front three would most likely consist of Schurpf, Lang and Neumayr.

However, with Kamber and Muntwiler netting in the second leg, they may get the chance against Kalju.

Contini may be in a good position that it isn't exactly clear how or who with Vaduz will line up on Thursday and that just may surprise Kaiju.

It will be a boost for Kalju though that Vaduz seem frail both defensively and in attack. Despite their trashing of La Fiorita, they did concede against the minnows, even if the aggregate score at the time was 9-0. They conceded fifty-nine goals over thirty-six games, third only to Aarau and sixth placed St. Gallen who staggeringly conceded the most of all. They were also able to score only twenty-eight times, the lowest total of all the teams in the division.

If Vaduz score though it will most likely come from Schurpf, Lang, Neumayr or Sutter with seven, two, five and three goals respectively last season.



Vaduz eased past College Europa of Gibraltar last year

Vaduz eased past College Europa of Gibraltar last year

Vaduz have participated in European football twenty times in their history and in seventeen of the last eighteen seasons. They were a feature in the competition in all of its guises having appeared in the Cup Winners Cup, UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League 

That isn't to say that they have been entirely successful. Having played thirty-eight matches in the UEFA Cup/Europa League, they managed just eight wins, drawing eight and losing twenty-two, scoring thirty-three and conceding 61 in the process.

Vaduz have been progress in recent seasons though. Having never progressed beyond the second qualifying round and suffering defeats in the early 2000s to teams such as Amica Wronki, Varteks Varazdin and Livingston, they reached the third qualifying round for the first team, besting Zrinjski Mostar and Scottish side Falkirk before defeat to Slovan Liberec. 

Co-efficient points also helped as for the next few seasons they entered in the second qualifying round and were able to defeat Vojvodina in the 11-12 season only to lose to Hapoel Tel Aviv in the third round.

They returned to the first qualifying round with a defeat to Chikhura Sachkhere of Georgia in the 13/14 season before last season eliminating College Europa and running Polish side Ruch Chorzow close, losing out in Poland by a 3-2 scoreline after a 0-0 draw at home against a superior side.

Scoring ten goals in the first qualifying round this season was obviously a confidence booster but the gulf in class between La Fiorita and the vast majority of the other sides in this competition has to be noted and it will be a step-up against Kaiju.



FC Vaduz against Ruch Chorzow from Poland

FC Vaduz against Ruch Chorzow from Poland

·         Christian Stober scored the first ever European goal for Vaduz in a 7-1 thrashing by Chernomorets in Odessa.

·         Vaduz lost their first two European ties by 12-1 and 14-1 scorelines to Chornomorets Odessa and Hradec Kralove

·         Their first goal in the UEFA Cup was scored by Uwe Wegmann while Emil Noll scored the first UEFA Europa League goal.

·         Vaduz have won forty-two Liechtenstein Cups, the most of any side in their country.

·         Vaduz were formed on Valentine's Day 1932 and won their first ever games vs. Balzers by a 2-1 scoreline.

·         Vaduz originally played in Austrian football, moving to Switzerland in 1933 after one season.

·         Vaduz are the only side from Liechtenstein to have reached the Swiss top flight so far.

·         Vaduz have employed thirteen managers, none of which have been from Liechtenstein.

·         Vaduz once played FC Basel in a UEFA Cup qualifier despite playing in the same league.