The Bundesliga weekend action gets underway with the Friday clash between RB Leipzig and VfB Stuttgart at the Red Bull Arena. Having stunned Bayern in the Supercup and emerged as many peoples favourite to challenge the Rekordmeister this season, Marco Rose’s side lost their opener last weekend at the Bay Arena to an impressive Leverkusen side.
Nothing less than a win will do for the Roten Bullen as they look to confirm their place as a genuine contender. They will be fully aware of what happened last season. After Domenico Tedesco led them to the Pokal, he then oversaw an awful start to the season and was duly sacked. Marco Rose also led the club to the Pokal last season and will not want to see lightning strike twice.
The major personnel changes at Leipzig this summer will of course take a little time to bed in, although time is not a commodity that is in plentiful supply in the Bundesliga with results the key to everything.
Still, there have been enough positive signs in both the Supercup and the defeat at the Bay Arena to indicate that Leipzig could have a major part to play in this season’s title race. The replacements brought in all have exciting potential and there is still enough core players there, who can lead the way.
The Swabians on the other hand put all the troubles of last season firmly behind them last week with a stunning 5-0 opening win at home to VfL Bochum. The opposition this week is of a much higher level and it will be the first time Stuttgart get to show whether they can improve on their awful away form of last season (and the season before).
Their first away win didn’t arrive until matchday 27 and their troubles on their travels will have to ironed out this season if they are not to find themselves in a similar pickle to last season.
There has been good news this week with the news that Hiroki Ito has signed a new contract at the club until 2027 despite transfer speculation linking him with a move. There has however also been another player exit in the form of key defender Konstantinos Mavropanos, who has joined West Ham in the Premier League. He joins Wataru Endo as a recent departure from the Mercedes Benz Arena.
Stuttgart didn’t show many signs of disruption last weekend, but the test they face on Friday will be much sterner and truer test of their mettle.
Both Amadou Haidara (torn muscle) and El Chadaille Bitshiabu (torn ligament) remain on the treatment table and won’t feature for a while yet. There is better news regarding Kevin Kampl and Benjamin Sesko, both of whom are back in training and pushing to be included in the matchday squad.
Possible line-up: Blaswich – Henrichs, Simakan, Orban, Raum – X. Schlager, Kampl – Simons, Dani Olmo – Openda, Werner
After the convincing win last weekend, there would appear to be little reason for Sebastian Hoeneß to tinker with his starting line-up. He does have the option to bring in Genki Haraguchi for Jeong, which could push Enzo Millot further forward. Gil Dias and Joshua Vagnoman remain unavailable through injury.
Possible line-up: Nübel – P. Stenzel, Anton, Zagadou, H. Ito – Karazor – Millot – Silas, Jeong, Führich – Guirassy
What they’re saying:
“We looked at the 5-0 win against Bochum. Stuttgart did really well. VfB are a very strong team that look for solutions and play a lot through the centre. In the last third they play with wide wingers.
“They also adapt their game to a back four or back three. They always have clear processes with the ball. We have to defend a lot of quality, especially one-on-one in the last third. But with our fans behind us, we’ll have our chances.
“We live on results and results create atmosphere. We are in a state of upheaval and may need some time. But we already had a great training camp and we already noticed that the lads fit in well with us. We have added quality and remain ambitious.
“First we won the Supercup, which we can be proud of. Then we go home from Leverkusen with a defeat and of course you notice that the boys would have liked to have done better. But we’re focusing on tomorrow night. We want to bring energy into the dressing room and into the stadium. And now it’s important that you get points and get into a flow.”
“RB Leipzig is an absolute top team. It may have lost substance, but was quickly able to get really interesting players and perform. You saw that in the game against Bayern. We know there’s a big task coming our way. It’s a great challenge for us to see where we are now.
“We showed against Bochum that we have a certain inner strength. Leipzig is now a different challenge altogether. We want to compete with the best. If there is an opportunity, we want to take something from the game.
“We had a great experience at home with the fans. Nevertheless, everyone knows that this is just the first step and that there are 33 more to come.”
19/08/23 Bayer Leverkusen (a) 3-2 L (Bundesliga)
12/08/23 Bayern Munich (a) 0-3 W (Supercup)
05/08/23 Las Palmas (h) 3-0 W (Friendly)
02/08/23 VSG Altglienicke (h) 9-2 W (Friendly)
02/08/23 St Truiden (h) 4-0 W (Friendly)
19/08/23 VfL Bochum (h) 5-0 W (Bundesliga)
12/08/23 TSG Balingen (a) 0-4 W (DFB Pokal)
05/08/23 Sheffield United (a) 0-3 W (Friendly)
29/07/23 1860 Munich (h) 2-0 W (Friendly)
29/07/23 Borussia Mönchengladbach (h) 1-5 L (Friendly)
The corresponding fixture at the Red Bull Arena took place on matchday 18 last season with the hosts winning 2-1 thanks to a double strike from Dominik Szoboszlai. The win maintained the Roten Bullen’s unbeaten record against the Swabians.
Stuttgart were handicapped by the late withdraw of striker Serhou Guirassy through illness and a goal in each half from Szoboszlai handed the three points to Marco Rose’s side with Bruno Labbadia struggling to drag the Swabians out of their relegation struggle. A Chris Führich penalty in the second period gave the visitors brief hope, but the three points went Leipzig’s way.
Players to watch:
Dani Olmo has started to season is sublime form scoring a hat trick in the Supercup and then adding one in last week’s defeat at Leverkusen. It’s no wonder the Spaniard is being linked with a big transfer (Manchester City being the latest). Keeping hold of him will be key for the Roten Bullen having already lost key players this summer.
Despite reported interest from the Premier League, striker Serhou Guirassy has pledged his future to Stuttgart and he underlined his importance to the team last week by scoring a brace on the opening weekend. His goals (particularly in the Rückrunde) were key to the club’s survival last season and his goals will once again be a key factor in any success this time around.