After clawing themselves off the foot of the Bundesliga table with their first point in the new campaign, VfB Stuttgart are turning their attentions to the UEFA Europa League as they get set to host Steaua Bucharest in Group E on Thursday evening (kick-off 19:00 CET).

The 0-0 draw with Fortuna Düsseldorf was far from inspiring, but it got Bruno Labbadia's men off the mark, a vital confidence boost ahead of their European tie with Romania's most successful club on both the international and domestic fronts.

Ibisevic returns


As impressive a history as that is, the visitors have a poor track record against German sides. They have failed to win any of their last twelve matches, dating back to 1957, when they defeated Borussia Dortmund on home soil. Nevertheless, head coach Bruno Labbadia knows his side won't have things easy against Steaua. "In Bucharest we'll be facing a side brimming with confidence based on their current success in the league," said the 46-year-old. "They won at the weekend and are a very harmonious team."

Stuttgart will be without long-term absentees Daniel Didavi and Johan Audel, but more problematic are the injuries sustained by Tim Hoogland and Cristian Molinaro, as well as the doubts surrounding Serdar Tasci's fitness. "We will have to deal with losing two full backs and find a solution," said Labbadia. Zdravko Kuzmanovic also misses out, but is due to complete the final match of his European ban.

Speaking in the pre-match press conference on Wednesday, Christian Gentner laid out Stuttgart's plan of "winning our home games to progress from the group stage. We may be lacking a little in the final third at the moment, but we will make the right decisions again," remarked the vice-captain. One man sure to help solve that problem is , who will return to the starting line-up after seeing out the first of his two match league ban against Düsseldorf. "It's only a question of time until we start to show that consistently on the pitch. Hopefully we can start against Bucharest," said Gentner.

Probable line-ups:

Stuttgart: Ulreich - Sakai, Tasci (Niedermeier), Maza, Boka - Kvist, Gentner - Harnik, Hajnal, Okazaki - Ibisevic - Trainer: Labbadia.

Bukarest: Tatarusanu - Dumitras, Chiriches, Szukala, Parvulescu - Bourceanu, Pintilii - Chipciu, Rusescu, Tanase - Adi Rocha

James Thorogood