2023 has come to an end and the Bundesliga enters its traditional Winterpause, which gives us here at Bundesliga Fanatic the ideal opportunity to take a closer look at each of the eighteen clubs and rate their performance in the first half of the season. Next we run the rule over high-flyers VfB Stuttgart.
The story so far
Wow! Who saw this coming? The Swabians have gone from only just securing their Bundesliga survival in the relegation play-off with Hamburg, to taking the Hinrunde by storm and finishing third in the table behind Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich. Sebastian Hoeneß masterminded a fantastic turnaround in fortunes, made all the more remarkable by the fact the club lost key men Wataru Endo, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Borna Sosa in the summer.
An opening day 5-0 thrashing of VfL Bochum saw a few eyebrows raised but the result wasn’t a complete shock. They were brought down to earth with a bump in their next game when RB Leipzig hit them for five at the Red Bull Arena. However, this was a different VfB Stuttgart and the following series of matches saw them win six on the bounce with an attacking flair that brought them 19 goals with just three conceded.
Freiburg were beaten 5-0 and in another positiver development, the Swabians began to win away from home with victories on the road against Mainz, Köln and Union Berlin. Last season saw them win just all season away from the MHP Arena. The opening eight games saw striker Serhou Guirassy score a breathtaking 14 goals (Niklas Füllkrug won the Torjägerkanone last season with 16 all season).
Back-to-back defeats to Heidenheim and Hoffenheim on matchdays 9 and 10 didn’t dent their progress and they responded with wins over Borussia Dortmund, Eintracht Frankfurt (another away victory) and Werder Bremen. They matched table toppers Bayer Leverkusen earning a deserved 1-1 draw at the MHP Arena before losing 3-0 at the Allianz Arena to Bayern.
The year was finished off with a 3-0 home win over Augsburg to seal third spot in the table going into the winter break on 34 points. At the same stage last season they languished in 16th with 15 points. Alexander Nübel has proved an excellent acquisition, Waldemar Anton and Dan-Axel Zagadou have formed a brilliant partnership in defence. Chris Führich has progressed to the German national team, while Deniz Undav has proved more than a back-up to Guirassy scoring nine goals of his own.
Tale of the tape
Record: 11-1-4, 34 points (2.13 per game), 3rd in Bundesliga
Home Record: 22 points (7-1-1) Away Record: 12 points (4-0-3)
Goals: 37 (2.31 per game), Goals Against: 19 (1.19 per game), Diff: +18
xG: 38, xGA: 17.2
The whole Hinrunde has been a highlight for Stuttgart fans especially when you consider the abysmal season they endured last season. The goals of Serhou Guirassy have been a particular source of amazement but the team as a whole just seem totally transformed and playing with a swagger that was totally absent in the previous campaign.
The big wins over Bochum and Freiburg stand out, as does the victory over Dortmund and the point achieved against a rampaging Leverkusen. The Cup run has also provided added satisfaction and the club find themselves in the quarter-finals after beating TSG Balingen, Union Berlin and Dortmund.
There haven’t been many, but the matchday 2 5-1 loss to RB Leipzig at first glance made it seem like the Stuttgart of last season was still amongst us. It was, however, to prove a minor blip.
The whole squad has massively upped its game from last season, but the headlines have been grabbed by the goal scoring exploits of Serhou Guirassy. He started the season on fire with 14 goals in the opening eight matches with hat tricks bagged against Wolfsburg and Mainz and braces scored against Darmstadt, Freiburg and Bochum.
A hamstring injury then kept him out, but on his return he was immediately back amongst the goals hitting three more before Christmas. The only downside for Stuttgart is the fact that his scoring exploits have attracted the interest of numerous clubs and holding onto their star man is going to prove tricky.
From almost the bottom of the class to an A grade over the summer months is quite the achievement. This is a much different Stuttgart side and their positive run of results has bred confidence. They went through four different trainers last season, but in Sebastian Hoeneß they look to have to have exactly the right man to steer the club forward.