Saturday’s task: Drag Stuttgart back down

To mark the end of a busy week of football, TSG face the challenge of a Swabian derby in Stuttgart. At 15:30 CET on Saturday, Julian Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim will be looking to bring in the next three points. previews the game:

Julian Nagelsmann on ...

... the opposition:

After the two recent defeats, VfB will certainly not be as confident as they were one week ago. We want to win and drag them right back into the relegation struggle. Stuttgart - similarly to Dortmund - always have a lot of players in the final third. They attack with power and on the wing, Werner and Kostic provide the pace - that's where they look to cause their opponents problems. When they attack, they almost skip out the midfield, they have very few players for build-up play. That could be our chance. When we win the ball back in these areas they don’t have many men behind the ball. We have to try and exploit this. 

... the personnel:

As things stand, Tobias Strobl will not be fit to play - he is still suffering with knee problems. We will hold talks with the medical team again though - he's got a light tear on the meniscus ligament and we have to consider the risk. Philipp Ochs will also be missing. He went for a run on Thursday but is still suffering from a pulled calf. Here too, we will have to consider whether playing him is worth the injury risk. (Sebastian Rudy will also be out of action) 

... the current situation: 

I want maximum success - in every game, in every training session. So the pressure, despite good results of late, has not decreased. We know there is still a lot of work to do. 

... the current situation II

The mood is obviously good after the win against Augsburg. We rewarded ourselves for the performance and the team was very happy to bring the three points back. That hasn’t always happened over the course of this season. Tactically we will approach the game against VfB differently, but I can reveal one thing: We will not be lining up with ten men on the edge of Oliver Baumann’s box.

Previous encounters:

15 and counting - Stuttgart still have the slight edge, winning six of them. TSG have won four of the encounters, with the remaining five of course ending in stalemate. The most recent encounter also finished in a draw. Kevin Volland scored twice for Hoffenheim with the game ending 2-2. The recent results do however bode well for TSG. From the last four games, Hoffenheim have won three.

Opposition’s form:

With the change of manager from Alexander Zorninger to Jürgen Kramny VfB’s form has improved massively. His first game in charge was a defeat to Dortmund, but since then things have looked up. Three draws and five victories - 18 points from eight games allowed Stuttgart to pull away from the relegation zone. Since then, however, VfB have suffered two defeats - one against bottom of the table Hannover and one in Gladbach. One of the hottest teams in the league have been cooled down - who would have predicted that going into last weekend.

Key battle: 

A crucial part of Stuttgart’s side since the start of the season has been Daniel Didavi. Under Kramny, VfB have seen the rise of Filip Kostic and Lukas Rupp. The trio have combined outstandingly in recent weeks and led their team to victory on more than one occasion. Only in the last two games, for one of which Didavi was serving a suspension, did things start to go wrong. With that said, in the 4-0 defeat to Gladbach, the Stuttgart players were guilty of gifting one or two of the goals. For TSG, therefore, that means it will be crucial to take control of the midfield and be smart on the attack in order to make the most of the opposition’s mistakes.



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