On Saturday, 16th-place Stuttgart will host last-place FC Augsburg in the Bundesliga’s toilet game of the week.
Is Augsburg the same team that finished fifth last year?
I have not paid close attention to Augsburg this season. What the hell happened to them? Twelve matches into the season they sit at the bottom of the table with just six points. Their once-solid defense has vanished, trailing only Stuttgart in goals-against.
Stuttgart’s excuse for being bad is quite simple: they don’t have the personnel to pull off the aggressive offensive scheme coach Alexander Zorniger is trying to implement. Augsburg has the same coach and, from the looks of it, pretty much the same team they had last year.
It will be interesting to see what they do during the winter break. They don’t have the same resources as their fellow Bavarian clubs, but will have to do something if this downward spiral continues. Augsburg lost to Werder Bremen 2-1 in their most-recent Bundesliga match.
Stuttgart before the international break
Before the most recent league break, it was Stuttgart’s turn to be cannon fodder for Bayern Munich, getting soundly destroyed 4-0 to the delight of the crowd at Allianz Arena. To be honest, this Bayern team is the best professional soccer team I’ve ever seen play. It would be shocking if they don’t win the Champions League this year.
VfB had a couple of chances for goals. A Filip Kostic shot in the 34th minute hit the top crossbar. Substitute Philip Heise had a long kick and run for nothing, as it went right to Manuel Neuer for an easy deflection. Stuttgart goalie Przemyslaw Tyton had a very long day at the office, facing 23 (Yes! 23!) shots on goal during the first half alone, an assault the vigor of which the Bundesliga had not seen since 1992. It’s hard to lose a match 4-0 and have your head held reasonably high, but this would be one of those times.
What to expect against Augsburg & a prediction
I hope the referee nips any conflicts before they escalate. Both of these teams are frustrated, so any antagonism could snowball quickly. Augsburg is in seriously bad shape, relegation-wise. If they fall behind early, the potential of giving up three points to a team two spots above them is going to bubble-out in the form of fouls.
The good news for Augsburg is that they are built precisely to handle a team such as VfB. They prefer to play solid defense and counterattack when the moment presents itself. That is not to say they are defensive-centric, however. Augsburg generally prefers a faster pace; Stuttgart will definitely provide that.
I am hoping that the second half of their previous game with Bayern showed Zorniger that you cannot have your foot on the gas pedal every minute of play. There are times when it is necessary to let off a little and allow your defense to help the goalkeeper. If Stuttgart shows any semblance of having grasped this concept on Saturday, they win the match 3-1. If not, I still think they squeeze out a heart-attack win, but more like 3-2.
Randall will probably disagree with this when he posts the Bundesliga Match Day picks later in the week. (Editor’s note: We shall see . . . – RH)
The only certainty is Serey Die will receive a yellow card and be rightfully applauded for his effort as he’s subbed out near the end of the second half.
Random Stuttgart Notes
- Augsburg have won the previous five meetings with Stuttgart. Three of those have resulted in a Stuttgart receiving a red card.
- On Wednesday December 16, VfB will host Eintracht Braunschweig in the DFB Cup round-of-16. No matter the outcome, I love their coach Torsten Lieberknecht.
- Injured players Robbie Kruse, Georg Niedermeier, and Lukas Rupp all played in a friendly match against FC Schaffhausen last Friday. Stuttgart won 3-1.
- Backup goalkeeper Mitch Langerak has returned to practice.
- Daniel Didavi posted a selfie of himself while driving on Instagram last week. He was immediately flamed by commenters and now regrets what he did.
- Stuttgarter Zeitung writes that VfB defender Antonio Rudiger will likely make a permanent switch to AS Roma during the summer of 2016.
- Austrian national player Aleksandar Dragovic, currently with Dynamo Kiev, rejected rumors of an exchange with Stuttgart. “I want to be with a top club, and for me, Stuttgart is not yet there.”
- If Stuttgart does not add a defensive center back such as Dragovic during the winter break, I hope 22-year-old Stephen Sama gets a chance. He is currently playing with VfB Stuttgart II and extended his contract with the club until June 2018.
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