The Swabian outfit have gone four matches without a victory in front of their own fans in Europe and are understandably wary of their Italian opponents, who knocked Borussia Mönchengladbach out in the previous round to preserve their unbeaten record in the competition.
Head coach Bruno Labbadia paid tribute to his squad for their extended run in three competitions, treating them to two days off ahead of their fifth encounter in the space of two weeks and their 38th this season. However, sporting director Fredi Bobic was adamant that Stuttgart weren’t about to "give up on a match or a tournament".
Indeed, Thursday’s hosts certainly aren’t writing off their chances against the side from the Italian capital, who dropped down to fifth in the Serie A after a 3-0 loss to AC Milan on Saturday. “We’re not looking at ourselves thinking we don’t have a chance,” explained Labbadia. “This is very attractive - a top game for us that takes us a step forward. We’re looking forward to measuring ourselves against a very good opponent. We want to put ourselves is a good position.”
Lazio, yet to win on German soil in a European competition, are still unable to call upon the services of the injured Miroslav Klose. However, on-loan Manchester United FC striker Federico Macheda, due to start for Stuttgart in place of the suspended Vedad Ibisevic, believes Klose’s absence does little to detract from the Italians’ quality.
The former Lazio youngster reckons the tie will be a "very emotional match" as he gets set to make his full debut for VfB’s against the club where he learned his trade as a youth player: "Scoring a goal would be incredible. It’ll be difficult, but we’re ready."
Stuttgart: Ulreich - Sakai, Tasci, Rüdiger, Boka - Gentner, Kvist - Harnik, Holzhauser, Traore - Macheda
Lazio: Marchetti - Cana, Biava, Andre Dias, Radu - Ledesma - Candreva, Gonzalez, Hernanes, Lulic - Floccari