It truly has been a golden 24 hours for Zurich's sporting teams, and indeed Swiss sport. In the last two days, ZSC Lions beat the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL to lift the Victoria Cup and tonight, FC Zurich did the unthinkable and beat Italian giants AC Milan in the Champions League group stage.
ZSC earned the right to play in the Victoria Cup after lifting the inaugral Champions Hockey League and took their chance with a superb 2-1 victory against Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks while FCZ reached the group stages after winning the Swiss Super League last season. Switzerland have a great tradition in winter sports and Roger Federer has put Switzerland on the world sporting map and FC Basel have also performed well on the European stage. In 2002/03 they shocked Europe by reaching the second stage of the Champions League, knocking out Liverpool in the process before eventually falling short. Yet despite these successes, this has to be the most succesful week in Swiss team sport.
Switzerland remain competitive in hockey and football on the international stage with both of their teams competitive in World and European championships but surely one cannot recall its club teams performing so well. The NLA, Switzerlands premier hockey competition ranks among one of the best in Europe but is overshadowed by the Swedish, Finnish and Czech leagues as well as the NHL and Russia's KHL. The Swiss Super League is also dwarfed by neighbouring countries with regards to football.
The NLA has produced the European Champions, ZSC Lions and is a thoroughly engaging tournament. The atmosphere at matches is awesome while tickets (certainly at EV Zug) are affordable. This means games are well attended by teenagers whereas trips to Old Trafford and the like are often out of reach of many in England. Hockey of course is much more popular in Switzerland than in Britain, with the Elite League being its equivalent.
The Swiss Super League is very different to football in England. The stadia have places to stand and while the standard of grounds are improving, the charm that these venues have will hopefully not decrease. On the occasions I have been to the Hardturn to see Grasshoppers Zurich play a European tie, the fans have been vocal and it was refreshing to see fans of both clubs in the same stand, even if the Leeds fans who perhaps should not have been there weren't as polite as their Swiss hosts.
Sport in Switzerland is different, yet that does not mean it is necessarily inferior. Sure, watching the likes of FC Luzern or FC Zurich may not be as impressive as Manchester United or Chelsea, but the Swiss hockey and football leagues offer something equally entertaining and after this week's successes, they deserve their moment in the spotlight.