Season Preview 2014-2015: VfB Stuttgart

Nicknames: Die Roten (the Reds), Die Schwaben (the Swabians)

Founded: September 9, 1893

Club colors: White and red

Primary Rivals:  Karlsruher SC, Stuttgarter Kickers and to a lesser extent SC Freiburg, FC Bayern München & Hertha BSC.

Fan Friendship: SSV Reutlingen, AS Cesena and formerly Energie Cottbus

Trophies:

  • German Championship:  1950, 1952, 1984, 1992, 2007
  • DFB Pokal :  1954, 1958, 1997
  • German SuperCup: 1992

Stadium:  Mercedes-Benz Arena (60,441 capacity), opened 1933

2013-14 Finishes:

  • Bundesliga: 15th
  • DFB Pokal:
  • UEFA Champions/Europa League (when applicable):

Top Goal Scorer:  Vedad Ibisevic, Martin Harnik (10 goals each)

2013-14 Season Summary

Club Reputation

People who follow the Bundesliga will remember the “Magic Triangle” formed by Bobic, Ballakov and Elber and of course the complete surprise Championship win in 2007 managed by Armin Veh with young players like Gomez and Khedira from the youth sides. We played offensive, forceful and reckless football, which was amazing to watch. People also notice our superb youth teams, which are mostly under the Top 3 of Germany. Unfortunately, many errors regarding the team were made after our Championship win and after pretty bad runs in the past 4 years people see us now more like “a plain Jane”. We had too many managers and players not fitting in the system of the next one. Former Championship manager Veh came to stop the trend;  he wants to play this offensive football that people liked again, and President Wahler is talking about the Champions League to be a medium-term goal. (TK)

Reality

Fans have a pretty good intuition about the club, I think. To my mind the team is not well-balanced and crucial changes have not been made. We need a got CB beside Rüdiger to stabilize the defense and a RB behind Klein. Furthermore there are several players who have no future in Stuttgart.  I don’t think we can reach the goal of a Champions League berth in the next years, at least not with the key players we have. We had some problems in getting good young players into the professional team, but this will hopefully get better with the obligation of Rainer Adrion (came from DFB). We have some really good young players, but we need a better “backbone” if we want to reach the heights of the Bundesliga table, and stay there.. There is a lot of work to do for the people in charge to get us on the right path again. (TK)

Philosophy

Our philosophy is to get good young players (mostly trained in the club) into the Bundesliga team, where they can get better besides experienced players and play attractive offensive football. The experienced players are Ulreich, Gentner, Harnik and Ibisevic and the young players e.g. Timo Werner, Marco Rojas, Arianit Ferati, Filip Kostic, Daniel Didavi, Carlos Gruezo, Oriol Romeu and so on. Veh is trying to play with back three (so 3-5-2) if we have the ball to get the RB and LB further forward putting superior numbers on the sides to create the offensive power he wants to see. This system makes us pretty vulnerable to get hit on a break and Veh has already said that we need good performances from our goalkeeper to win the games. (TK)

Plan B

I don’t know what the plan B is, but most likely it is a typical 4-2-3-1 to stabilize the defense if the first matches get lost.(TK)

Strengths and Weaknesses

VfB have a lot of players with great potential, especially in our offensive line. But this is our weakness simultaneously. The team need to play more consistent in this season to reach their goals and after the last bad season there is actually just one: We don’t want to have anything to do with relegation this year. (TK)

Takeaway from 2013-14

Stuttgart were awful last season.  Coach Labbadia lasted only three lost games into the season, and was replaced by 40 year-old Thomas Schneider, a man who has spent almost his entire life at the club as a player and youth coach.  The Swabians improved with the new hiring, but it too soon became obvious that Schneider, who’d never coached a professional squad, was too inexperienced.  Stuttgart suffered a club record eight-game losing streak under his tutelage before Huub Stevens was brought in to save the club from relegation,  He did so, just barely, but that was as much a result of the even poorer play of Hamburg, Nürnberg and Eintracht Braunschweig down the stretch as anything exciting accomplished by Steven’s squad as the season wound down.

On opening day 2014/2015, newcomers Oriol Romeu and Florian Klein started against Gladbach, while late signing Filip Kostic came on a second half substitute.  Along with the club’s other summer signings, Adam Hlousek and Daniel Ginczek, this does not form an exciting group of newcomers — Sporting Director Fredi Bobic may have found a gem or two, but initially it appears to be a solid, but uninspiring, collection of players.  That fits perfectly, unfortunately, with Stuttgart’s squads of recent years — a solid core of veteran players with some talented youngsters, but little in the way of star power or difference-makers. With Traore gone to Gladbach and Veh not yet including Timo Werner in the starting XI, this is a very slow-footed club, particularly in attack. (GW)

Trivia

VfB has the biggest referee department of all German clubs.  And in 2007, VfB’s Fernando Meira grabbed the Bundesliga Championship — and lifted it the wrong way.  (TK)

Verdict

Stuttgart drew their season opener away at Gladbach, 1-1, but the Swabians have been a bogey team for Gladbach in recent years, winning or drawing their last eight encounters.  Typical VfB match….. surrendering a lead in the matches’ closing moments.   Veh has his work cut out for him, as he must find a way to install the fitness/confidence/focus in his players to play well in close games.  Last season, in 13 games decided by one goal, VfB won only two,  The lone shining moments of the past two seasons have been Stuttgart’s Pokal runs, including a berth in the final two years ago.  But Stuttgart were eliminated in the first round this season by  a very in-form VfL Bochum.

This will be a long season for VfB, most likely, and their hope for survival is that there are three worse clubs in the Bundesliga again this season. (GW)

The Boss

Armin Veh is an experienced, competent coach.  He’s been coaching in Germany since 1990, and one can understand his hiring by Stuttgart,  Stuttgart won the 2006/2007 Bundesliga title under Veh, and missed doing the domestic double by losing 3-2 in the Pokal final that season.  He should bring stability to a club that, with the exception of surprising run of Bruno Labbadia (did anyone think he’d last almost three years at the helm of VfB?) employed eight managers between 2000 and Labbadia’s arrival in 2010.

That said, Veh’s second chance at VfB seems a rather safe but pedestrian choice.  But this is a rather pedestrian club. (GW)

Odds to win league:

150/1 (source: bwin)

“60-second dossier”

  • Number of Matches won by 2 or more goals: 6
  • Number of Matches won by 1 goal: 2
  • Number of Matches drawn: 8
  • Number of Matches lost by 1 goal: 11
  • Number of Matches lost by 2 or more goals: 7
  • Top Scorers in 2013-14: Vedad Ibisevic, Martin Harnik (10 goals), Alexandru Maxim (7). Timo Werner, C. Gentner (4)

Five-Year Record:  15, 12, 6, 12, 6

Q & A with a club fan:  Thomas Krieg (you can follow Thomas on Twitter at @zwuggele

  • “Keep an eye out for . . .”  Arianit Ferrati

  • “Terrace favorite . . .”   I have no favorite here, but in my humble opinion we have some players who’d be better there.

  • “Player you’d happily drive to another club . . .”  There is more than one: Sararer, Kvist, Abdellaoue, Haggui, Rausch, Hlousek, Holzhauser, Niedermeier

  • “Advice you’d give your manager . . .”  Please let Fredi Bobic strengthen our defense (I think we desperately need a good CB beside Rüdiger and a RB), balance our team (too many players on the left side) and get us a real leader

  • “Opposition player you secretly admire . . .”  Thomas Müller

  • “Opposition player you despise. . .”  Arjen Robben

  • “Where will you finish . . .”   I think we’ll come in 12th place

  • How do you rate Sven Ulreich?   He is an excellent player on the line with great reflexes, but he has big problems in dominating the penalty area. I don’t see a big development of his play and would love to see how Thorsten Kirschbaum performs with the team. However, Ulreich has a big standing among most of our supporters, because he came up through our youth program.

Fixture list:

August

  • 24 Borussia Mönchengladbach (A)
  • 30 FC Koln (H)

September

  • 13 Bayern Munich (A)
  • 20 TSG Hoffenheim (H)
  • 24 Borussia Dortmund (A)
  • 27 Hannover 96 (H)

October

  • 04 Hertha Berlin (A)
  • 18 Bayer Leverkusen (H)
  • 25 Eintracht Frankfurt (A)

November

  • 01 VfL Wolfsburg (H)
  • 08 Werder Bremen (A)
  • 22 FC Augsburg (H)
  • 29 SC Freiburg (A)

December

  • 06 Schalke 04 (H)
  • 13 Mainz 05 (A)
  • 17 Hamburg SV (A)
  • 20 SC Paderborn (H)

January

  • 31 Borussia Mönchengladbach (H)

February

  • 04 FC Köln (A)
  • 07 Bayern Munich (H)
  • 14 TSG Hoffenheim (A)
  • 21 Borussia Dortmund (H)
  • 28 Hannover 96 (A)

March

  • 07 Hertha Berlin (H)
  • 14 Bayer Leverkusen (A)
  • 21 Eintracht Frankfurt (H)

April

  • 04 VfL Wolfsburg (A)
  • 11 Werder Bremen (H)
  • 18 FC Augsburg (A)
  • 25 SC Freiburg (H)

May

  • 02 Schalke 04 (A)
  • 09 Mainz 05 (H)
  • 16 Hamburg SV (H)
  • 23 SC Paderborn (A)

Crucial Schedule Stretch:

Among the first five games of the new season, Stuttgart will face Gladbach, Bayern and BvB on the road, with FC Köln and Hoffenheim visiting the Mercedes Benz Arena.  Brutal stuff.  Presently it appears that Veh’s squad will have little chance of gaining a road result during the this time, so it is imperative that the Swabians earn maximum points against Köln and Hoffenheim.  Otherwise, the Swabians will be buried fast and find relegation looming.  Considering that during last season’s relegation fight, Stuttgart only earned a solitary point in their last three season matches, one would surmise that this squad does not thrive under pressure. (GW)

Much thanks to Stuttgart fan Thomas Krieg for his substantial input into this preview.

 

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Gerry Wittmann

Gerry is the founder of the Bundesliga Fanatic. Besides loving German football, he also enjoys the NBA, collecting jerseys and LPs, his pets and wishes he had more time for fishing, bicycling and learning the bass guitar.

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