- Capital: Vaduz
- Official Languages: German
- Nicknames: The Blues-Reds
- Association: Liechtensteiner Fussballverband (LFV)
- FIFA Code: LIE
- Best World Cup Result (Men): Not Qualified
- Best World Cup Result (Women): n/a
- Best Euros Result (Men): Not Qualified
- Best Euros Result (Women): n/a
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Men): 118th (January 2008, July 2011, September 2011)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Women): n/a
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Men): 191st (July 2017)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Women): n/a
- Most Capped Player: Peter Jehle – 132 caps
- Top Scorer: Mario Frick – 16 goals
The Principality of Liechtenstein (Fürstentum Liechtenstein) is UEFA’s third smallest country (in terms of its size) with the German-speaking microstate situated in the Alpine mountain range, and sandwiched between Switzerland (to its west and with whom they have strong economic and military links with) and Austria (with whom they strong historical links, to its east), thus making it a doubly landlocked country within the middle of Europe. The foundations of the principality originate from the time of the Holy Roman Empire, although it wouldn’t be until the mid-19th century when the country became a fully independent state.
Liechtenstein is unique within European football as it is the only country without its own national league due to there being fewer than 8 teams within the principality. However, they still organise their own national cup competition which allows a Liechtensteiner club to compete within European club competitions, most usually FC Vaduz, Liechtenstein’s most successful club. As a result of this, Liechtensteiner clubs compete within the Swiss football pyramid as “guest clubs” and are unable to qualify for Europe via the Swiss leagues, and only via the Liechtensteiner Cup. In the mid-1930s, the Liechtensteiner clubs were originally affiliates of the St. Gallen Cantonal FA, but since the LFV was founded in 1934, they now organise the competitions within the microstate. Despite its FA being founded in the 1930s, it wouldn’t be until 1974 when Liechtenstein became a full member of both UEFA and FIFA. They played their first match in 1981, drawing 1-1 against Malta in Seoul, South Korea in the President’s Cup tournament held in the country.
Friendlies for Liechtenstein’s team would be very sporadic throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, and it wouldn’t be until they entered their first qualifying campaign for Euro 1996 when Liechtenstein started to play regular officially recognised matches. It would be during their debut appearance in European qualifying that they would earn their first qualifying point, achieving a heroic goalless draw against the Republic of Ireland in Eschen in June 1995, although it would be another three years before the country achieved their first win in competitive international football by beating Azerbaijan 2-1 during Euro 2000 qualifying.
Due to its size and small pool of players, Liechtenstein is often one of the lowest ranked teams within the UEFA confederation, and regularly finishes bottom of their qualification groups. Since first entering European qualifying for Euro 1996, they have only achieved seven victories in their history in either the World Cup or European Champions qualifying stages. However there are two occasions when the Blues-Reds have not finished bottom of their qualifying group. In the 2006 World Cup qualification, Liechtenstein finished sixth in their seven-team group, accumulating a record points haul of eight points, and achieving a double over Luxembourg (4-0 away and 3-0 at home – their only wins in World Cup qualification), whilst amazingly drawing with Portugal 2-2, and Slovakia 0-0, in a memorable campaign. Whereas during qualification for Euro 2016, they finished fifth in their six-team group and accumulated five points. Despite scoring only two goals throughout their entire campaign, they achieved a 1-0 away victory and 1-1 home draw over Moldova, and grafted a goalless draw against Montenegro.
In their most recent UEFA Nations League schedule, they were unfortunate not to gain promotion to League C by finishing second in their League D group. Despite beating San Marino 2-0 away and achieving a 0-0 draw in the return fixture, a 1-0 away defeat and 1-1 draw to the eventual group winners Gibraltar ensured they would remain in Europe’s lowest tier for the next edition of the Nations League.
Talking about one of Europe’s lowest ranked sides who occasionally grind out an excellent results against higher ranked sides within international football, is the excellent Jan Stärker. Jan is a football journalist who mainly reports on both FC Vaduz, Liechtenstein’s best performing team within the Swiss football pyramid, and the Liechtensteiner national team. To find his social media accounts, follow the links below:
- Twitter: @staerker75
Q. Who would you say is your country’s best player and coach/manager of all-time, and the reasonings behind the choices?
The selection for best player I would split between two players. Firstly, Mario Frick, who is the current top goalscorer for the national team with 16 goals. Frick played many years in Italy (in both Serie A and Serie B) and has been capped 125 times for the national team. The other player is Rainer Hasler, who never played for the national team, but was a star in western Switzerland for Neuchâtel Xamax and Servette Geneva. He has some kind of “cult status” at Xamax (playing from 1979 to 1983) and Servette (playing from 1983 until his retirement in 1989), and captained the latter at their cup triumph and championship in 1984 and 1985. Hasler was selected as Liechtenstein’s choice for the UEFA Jubilee Golden Player awards in 2004.
The best manager of all time should be between the German coaches Dietrich Weise, who helped form the national team in the 1990s, and Ralf Loose, who coached the team from 1998 to 2003, and got the first win for the national team versus Azerbaijan (a 2-1 victory in 1998) [during the Euro 2000 qualifying campaign]. In addition, Loose formed the core of the team that played together until the first half of the 2010s.
Q. Who could be regarded as a ‘cult hero’ in terms of the national team both in the past and present?
This is a difficult question to answer because a lot of players, especially during the start of the national team, were amateurs and were some kind of cult heroes in the companies. However, Mario Frick, because of his time spent playing football in Serie A, and his 16 goals scored for the Liechtensteiner national team, could be it.
Q. Of the current team, who would you say is the best player from Liechtenstein currently?
Marcel Büchel [30-year-old midfielder], who plays for Serie B team Ascoli Calcio in Italy, should be the best football player in the team. However, Nicolas Hasler [the 30-year-old captain who plays either left or right midfielder for Swiss side FC Thun], son of the late Rainer, and goalkeeper Benjamin Büchel [31-year-old currently playing for FC Vaduz], who played some years in England [playing for Bournemouth, Oxford United, and a number of English lower league clubs on loan], are the best players in the team right now.
Q. How would you describe the current state/performance of the national team?
They are in a transition period. Ten years ago, Liechtenstein had around 15 professional players playing in Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Austria, and for FC Vaduz in Liechtenstein. Now there are only seven professionals left, including two goalies. They received an ugly loss in the Faroe Islands this June, losing 1-5, and dropped in the FIFA World Rankings list to 186th position.
Q. Are there any Liechtensteiner players who you think we should be focusing on for the future – who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent from the country?
Well, there is some hype around the Frick brothers Yanik [23-year-old forward at German side Energie Cottbus] and Noah [19-year-old forward currently at Neuchâtel Xamax] (the sons of Mario Frick), but they still lack something to breakthrough at their respective clubs. Unfortunately, there are not many top talents in the youth national teams currently.
Q. Looking at Liechtenstein’s international history, what would you say has been the best game, result or performance for the national team in your opinion?
The top results were against Portugal (a 2-2 draw in 2004) [in 2006 World Cup qualifying] and a 3-0 victory versus Iceland in 2007 [during the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign]. The best performance I ever witnessed was a heartbreaking 1-2 loss at Hampden Park versus Scotland in September 2010 [during Euro 2012 qualifying]. Liechtenstein were the much better team, led the game 1-0 at one point, and had many chances, including hitting the woodwork two or three times. Even after Scotland had equalized in the 62nd minute, Liechtenstein still had chances to regain the lead. However, they lost with the last play of the match, a freekick and a header in the seventh minute of stopage time.
Q. Likewise, is there a performance or result which is regarded as the team’s lowest point?
Low points are the 0-7 defeat versus Switzerland, and the 1-5 defeat against the Faroes, both friendly games played this June, and in 2008, a 1-7 friendly loss at Malta.
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the Liechtensteiner national team?
The best thing is that everyone likes you, because it is almost certain that Liechtenstein loses. That is also a hard thing for the fans, having some hope for a good result, which could also be gaining a point or achieving a close loss, and than seeing the other team win comfortably again.
Q. Have the fans adopted some kind of unofficial anthem to sing along to before/during/after matches?
No, because there are not many fans. You cannot compare the “fan scene” to other countries. For the home games, there are mostly around 1000 spectators, if it is that much. The stadium is only crowded when the national team plays good teams like Germany and Italy, or the neighbours from Austria and Switzerland. But the people don’t come to the stadium to see their team, but for the opponent… It is very sad.
Q. Do you have a favourite or iconic shirt from the whole time of the national team?
No, not really. They are mostly the same design. They had Adidas as their kit supplier, but changed to Macron about three years ago. The only iconic sign is on the shirts: the crown.
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of the Liechtensteiner national team?
My hope is that there are more professionals again and that the Liechtenstein players (youth and senior squad) pull their fingers out of their backsides to try to become professional players. The worst thing about Liechtenstein football is that most players do not have the drive to achieve, because a lot of them are very financially healthy back home, or say they earn more whilst working at a bank instead of trying to be a professional footballer.
A massive danke schön to Jan for answering our questions on The Blues-Reds. Remember you can find his social media accounts in the links at the top of the blogpage.
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