November 19, 2017

VfB Midweek Update: We’re not gonna make it, are we?

It has been a quiet week for soccer news in Stuttgart following Saturday’s expected defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich. With Hertha Berlin and Borussia Dortmund both winning last weekend, Stuttgart is now 18th (a.k.a. last place). VfB is level with fellow Baden-Wuerttemberg straggler SC Freiburg on 18 points, but trail in goal differential by six.

Great Fans

The atmosphere that Commando Cannstatt continues to provide is impressive. It’s not easy cheering for a team who have scored four goals at home all season (three coming in just one half of a single match). At halftime last weekend, the ultras mixed a little charity work into their team support. Commando Cannstatt presented a check of €11,500 to a local Swabian food bank. The fan group sells calendars to raise money for good causes and have raised over 83,000 euros since 2006.

Huub adjusting?     

Coach Huub Stevens continues to use very odd lineups while keeping capable players such as Alexandru Maxim on the bench. But there was a breakthrough this week in that he actually used a different formation! VfB went with a 4-1-4-1 against Bayern as opposed to their usual 4-2-3-1. I hope it is something we see more of in the future. It seemed to disrupt Bayern a little bit, and Stuttgart did not give up easy goals for a change.

Getting beat by Robben before the first half ended was still annoying, though. He is going to score goals; that is a given. But please, for the love of God, don’t let him beat you running full steam toward his left so he can hook the ball into the net. At least make him stop and kick while nearly stationary or force him to try to score from the right side.

Serey Die arrival imminent

Recent VfB acquisition. Geoffroy Serey Die, is expected sometime this week. Stuttgarter Zeitung was closely following Serey Die’s Cote D’Ivoire team as it captured the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 1992.

“I am very glad to come to Stuttgart,” Serey Die said recently. When asked why he played so little with FC Basel this year, he explained, “I have not played much recently because the coach wanted to bring in another player. That was hard.”

Serey Die should be available for Saturday afternoon’s matchup against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.

Next: Hoffenheim

Believe it or not, Stuttgart has actually outscored Hoffenheim, point-wise, over the past five matches. The culprit for Hoffenheim is scheduling more than anything else. As of last week, their three most-recent games were against the buzz saws of Augsburg, Werder Bremen, and VfL Wolfsburg, respectively. Hoffenheim helped add to the monster Werder Bremen has become by trading Jannik Vestergaard to them during the winter break. How could TSG not find any room in their lineup for the giant Dane? He already looks to have been a steal for Bremen.

This is a good chance for VfB to garner a point or three. Hoffenheim’s confidence is not very high after losing four of their last five. Stuttgart is fourth best in the league at earning points in away matches (13 of their 18 points). Their ride on the team bus will not be a long one. The Rhein-Neckar Arena lies only 85 km from Mercedes Benz Arena.

Hoffenheim won their earlier season matchup 2-0.

“Stuttgart 18”

When a team is not very good, one consequence is being used as comedic material.

Die Schwaben are no different.

Their struggles were noticed by Der Postillon, a German parody website with some similarities to The Onion.

Stuttgart 21” is a massive and controversial transportation project. One of the main plans is constructing an underground railway to replace the current station. Der Postillon has an article about “Stuttgart 18,” reporting on the city’s new project to build an underground stadium for being in last place. The article begins with the quote: “This misery cannot be seen anymore!” The pictures of the entrance (as seen in the header photo above) and “Germany’s first underground football stadium from the inside” are a nice touch.

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Court Wilson

lived in Tuebingen, Germany, which is a short drive from Mercedes-Benz Arena and favored team VfB Stuttgart. Twitter @oohrow

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