While not exactly a relegation six-pointer so to speak, both VfB Stuttgart and VfL Bochum are desperately in need of the three points this weekend as they both struggle to extricate themselves from the wrong end of the table.
Stuttgart go into Saturday’s match without a trainer having decided to sack Pellegrino Matarazzo on Monday following their loss to Union Berlin last weekend. The opportunity to secure a first win of the season therefore falls not to the US coach, but to interim Michael Wimmer.
Unlike Bayer Leverkusen, who had Xabi Alonso installed straight away following Gerardo Seoane’s sacking, Stuttgart are still considering their next move with a host of people under consideration. The names of Seoane, Domenico Tedesco, Peter Bosz, Sebastian Hoeneß and Adi Hütter are doing the rounds, but there is no firm news yet as to Pellegrini’s long-term successor.
Following Bochum’s win last weekend, the Swabians are now the only team in the Bundesliga without a win to their name. Playing the bottom side at home would normally provide the ideal chance to rectify this, but the Ruhr side will have been boosted by their debut victory and will provide a stern challenge,
The 3-0 victory achieved by Thomas Letsch’s side may have flattered slightly, but the relief was palpable at the final whistle at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion last weekend. Propping up the table with one point from eight games didn’t quite reflect the way Bochum had played, but it is now up to them to build upon that platform.
Taking on a team in the mire like them, but without the guidance of their coach could be the ideal opportunity to bag a second win when before they couldn’t see where the first was going to come from. In theory they could even move out of the bottom two this weekend.
Heady times indeed!
The precise line-up could see a number of changes with the sacking of Pellegrino Matarazzo. How much Michael Wimmer will tinker remains to be seen but a switch to a back four would not be out of the question.
He will be without the services of Serhou Guirassy and Atakan Karazor because of suspension, while Josh Vagnoman is still out with a foot injury.
Possible line-up: Müller, Mavropanos, Anton, Ito, Ahamada, Endo, Stenzel, Sosa, Silas, Führich, Tiago Tomas
If Kevin Stöger is fit you would imagine he would return to the starting line-up despite the win without him last week. Patrick Osterhage is the alternative. Dominique Heintz is pushing for a place in the defence while Christopher Antwi-Adeji could be an inclusion on the wing.
Possible line-up: Riemann, Gamboa, Masovic, Ordets, Danilo Soares, Losilla, Stöger, Förster, Zoller, Holtmann, Hofmann
What they’re saying:
Michael Wimmer: “They’ve been emotional days for me. I’ve known Rino a long time. The club asked me whether I’d help out in this phase and course I will. My focus is on the home game with Bochum.
“Training in the week has been about preparation for the game against Bochum and also to getting some relaxation and security into the team. The boys are focussed on Saturday. We want to play offensively and courageously on Saturday and get the fans with us from the first minute. Together with our fans we want to get the momentum on our side.
“Bochum come with confidence to Stuttgart. They have gained self-belief through their victory over Frankfurt. They are playing with determination going forward. We are prepared and are looking forward to the home game with our fans behind us.”
Thomas Letsch: “We looked at what things were good against Frankfurt. We want to consolidate and expand this. But of course we also looked at the things that weren’t good. We want to keep improving. The training week was good.
“It only works with courage, regardless of the opponent. After the 1-0 [v Frankfurt] you noticed that more courage and more joy in playing came back. We want to take this momentum with us. We want to play football, but with a cool head. It would be fatal to take the complete risk. The mix has to be right.
“It’s a special game for me. Many family members and friends still live in the region. There will also be some in the stadium. But the game is much more important. We fought our way up and can leave VfB behind in the table.”
08.10.22 Union Berlin (h) 0-1 L (Bundesliga)
01.10.22 VfL Wolfsburg (a) 3-2 L (Bundesliga)
17.09.22 Eintracht Frankfurt (h) 1-3 L (Bundesliga)
10.09.22 Bayern Munich (a) 2-2 D (Bundesliga)
03.09.22 Schalke (h) 1-1 D (Bundesliga)
08.10.22 Eintracht Frankfurt (h) 3-0 W (Bundesliga)
01.10.22 RB Leipzig (a) 4-0 L (Bundesliga)
18.09.22 Köln (h) 1-1 D (Bundesliga)
10.09.22 Schalke (a) 3-1 L (Bundesliga)
03.09.22 Werder Bremen (h) 0-2 L (Bundesliga)
The corresponding fixture last season between the two sides at the Mercedes-Benz Arena took place on matchday 23 and saw a 94th minute penalty from Eduard Löwen tear the three points away from Stuttgart in 1-1 draw. The hosts had taken the lead in the 56th via an Armel Bella Kotchap own goal.
Players to watch:
The Swabians need to see their key players step up and lead the way against bottom side Bochum and Greek defender Konstantinos Mavropanos is likely to be one such man. He has impressed both in a defensive and attacking sense this season and needs another top display this weekend to ease the pressure at the club.
Philipp Förster’s two assists via set-pieces and his cracking goal at the end saw his scorer points jump last weekend and it will be interesting to see what a boost to his confidence that had done. VfB are not exactly solid right now so more scorer points could be on the cards. Playing against his former side might provide an extra motivation.