Munich - VfB Stuttgart may boast the Bundesliga's best attempts-per-goal ratio of the Hinrunde, requiring only an average of 3.6 chances to score, but it’s an impressive stat which masks a striking over-reliance on a certain No9.

Of Stuttgart's 21 goals in the 2012/13 Bundesliga campaign to date, Bosnia-Herzogovina forward Vedad Ibisevic has ten - and when he's missing the Swabians generally flounder.

Toothless


Here are the facts. 18 games into the season, tenth-placed Stuttgart have 25 points and trail Borussia Dortmund in third by seven points - not too bad at all for a side traditionally seen as slow starters. The problem in question, however, lies much deeper.

Take last weekend's defeat to VfL Wolfsburg, for example. Without the services of the suspended Ibisevic, Stuttgart fired 21 shots on goal without finding the net. Similarly, on Matchday 3 against Fortuna Düsseldorf, Stuttgart, with Ibisevic ruled out, failed to make any of their eleven attempts on target count.

Lonely furrow


Fellow front man Cacau was able to do a job of sorts a week later against Werder Bremen, chipping in with his only goal of the season, but a serious ankle injury has kept him sidelined ever since and left Ibisevic as Stuttgart's only proven out-and-out striker.

Of course, the 28-year-old has since ploughed the lone furrow to great effect, scoring in five of the Swabians' seven Bundesliga wins so far. Martin Harnik, Stuttgart's second-highest scorer (four), an own goal and Shinji Okazaki's solitary strike of 2012/13 account for their two other league wins this term.

Heavy lies the crown


So, including Christian Gentner (two) and Ibrahima Traore (one), that's more Bundesliga goals for the Bosnian than the rest of his team-mates combined. Add to that three in as many DFB Cup outings and a further five in this season's UEFA Europa League, and the term 'over-reliance' begins to carry as much weight as the expectations on Ibisevic's shoulders.

The good news, for Stuttgart fans at least, is that their star striker is due to return this coming weekend for the visit of Bundesliga leaders FC Bayern Munich. Ibisevic hasn't found the net domestically since helping himself to a hat-trick against FC Schalke 04 on Matchday 16 and if his figures for the current campaign are anything to go by, he's long overdue.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge