As a baker's apprentice from Stuttgart, he is all too aware of exactly what it would mean to the passionate fans of VfB to maintain their Bundesliga status this term, and having spoken of his admiration for the club's dynamic duo of Borna Sosa and Sasa Kalajdzic, world footballing legend Jürgen Klinsmann says Die Schwaben have what it takes to avoid the drop.
Klinsmann knows what it's all about to perform in front of Stuttgart's supporters, the one-time FIFA World Cup winner with West Germany having done so for five seasons between 1984 and 1989. A scorer of 94 goals in 186 games for VfB during that time, the 57-year-old says that the current crop of players - under the guise of American coach Pellegrino Matarazzo - are coming into a crucial period of the campaign where losing games is not an option.
"There will be battles and emotions on the field; it's a must not to lose," the former Bundesliga winner with Bayern Munich explained. Indeed, with Stuttgart currently third from bottom and level on points with Hertha Berlin immediately behind them, the tension is sky high going into the final eight games of the season.
It's a crucial period of the campaign, no doubt, but one that Stuttgart will face into with confidence on account of the four points they've gained in dramatic circumstances in their last two games. And key to some late moments of magic in those outings have been Kalajdzic and Sosa.
Watch: Kalajdzic on target as sensational Stuttgart stun Gladbach
Trailing to Borussia Mönchengladbach by 2-0 on Matchday 25, Stuttgart turned the game on its head to triumph 3-2, with the match-winner scored by a cool and calm Kalajdzic, who took full advantage of a Sosa assist. Fast forward to one week later, and the pair were at it again, Croatia international Sosa teeing up his Austrian teammate to score a last-gasp equaliser in the 1-1 draw away to Union Berlin.
"Psychologically, they are very important because it shows that the team believes in itself, that the chemistry is good and that the fighting spirit is there," Klinsmann said of the pair, who have now successfully combined on three occasions this season, adding to the five times they linked up to provide goals in 2020/21.
"We have a really good connection ... I feel really comfortable playing with him," versatile full-back Sosa - who has been plying his trade at the Mercedes-Benz Arena since 2018 - said of the 6'7" forward. "For a striker, [Kalajdzic] has really good movement and finishing," Sosa added.
Watch: Sosa and Kalajdzic combine late on in Berlin
Next up for Die Schwaben in the battle to avoid the dreaded drop is Saturday's crucial home encounter against fellow strugglers, Augsburg, who sit in 14th position and just three points ahead of Stuttgart, albeit with a game in hand. That Matchday 27 meeting precedes the trip to Arminia Bielefeld, another side who are precariously placed in 15th.
A considerable task ahead of Matarazzo and his Stuttgart side, then, but Klinsmann believes the current coach of the three-time Bundesliga winners is the perfect man to steer the side to safety. "He's doing a very good job; he's a good communicator, he's positive," the one-time Stuttgarter Kickers youth player said. "Obviously, when difficult moments happen like now, [Matarazzo] stands his ground," Klinsmann added.
Whatever happens, excitement is guaranteed in what has developed into a mouthwatering relegation battle. Likely to go down to the wire, the competition for top-flight survival will be intense.
"As we know we have eight games left - eight finals - we go all in and see what happens," Sosa said of Stuttgart's challenge, with Klinsmann adding, "There is [going to be] a lot of drama, we can predict that."
Let the games begin.
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