VfB Stuttgart are in relegation territory after 15 matches of the 2022/23 Bundesliga campaign. Can Bruno Labbadia's return as coach inspire another great escape?
The story so far
Stuttgart struggled in 2021/22, only beating the drop after securing a last-gasp win over Cologne on the final day. Four defeats and five draws to start the new campaign cost Pellegrino Matarazzo his job, but results picked up under caretaker coach Michael Wimmer.
VfB broke the winless cycle against relegation-threatened Bochum on Matchday 10 and won their next two home games against Augsburg and Hertha Berlin. There were, however, defeats away from home to Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen between times.
With Stuttgart in the relegation play-off spot, below the waterline on goal difference, a familiar face in Labbadia has been brought in to continue the green shoots of recovery. Depending on how they fare in the new year, a DFB Cup last-16 meeting with Bundesliga 2's Paderborn may provide a welcome distraction.
Key player: Silas
Last season was pretty much an injury write-off for Silas, but the Congolese forward has shown glimmers of his best form in 2022/23. He's contributed three goals and two assists in 14 appearances, translating into positive results against Werder Bremen (2-2), Schalke (1-1) and Bochum (4-1), while his versatility as a wide or central attacker will be a real boon as Labbadia attempts to sculpt a team fit for the relegation dogfight.
Stuttgart's maiden win of the season suggests they have what's needed to avoid the trapdoor once more. Die Schwaben ran out comfortable 4-1 winners over Bochum in Wimmer's first game as caretaker boss, with Silas scoring one and making two more. Having won two of five since, the hope now is that the new coach bounce under Labbadia lasts significantly longer.
Watch: Silas inspired Stuttgart to a big win over Bochum
One to watch: Serhou Guirassy
A deadline-day loan signing from Rennes, Serhou Guirassy is Stuttgart's top scorer so far this season with four goals in 10 appearances. The former Cologne striker's penalty rescued a point against Bayern Munich, before goals in defeat to Wolfsburg and 2-1 wins over lowly Augsburg and Hertha. When the fat lady sings, his abilities as a natural finisher could mean the difference between relegation, the play-offs and outright survival.
View from the camp
"Bruno Labbadia is an experienced coach who knows the Bundesliga, and has proven wherever he's been that he can stabilise and improve teams. We're currently in a very difficult situation in 16th place in the table, so he has the exact qualities we so desperately need." - Stuttgart CEO Alexander Wehrle
- Schalke (a), 25 February
- Bochum (a), weekend beginning 7 April
- Augsburg (a), weekend beginning 21 April
- Hertha Berlin (a), weekend beginning 5 May
- Hoffenheim (h), weekend beginning 26 May
Watch: The Bundesliga is back!
All 2022/23 season reviews:
Augsburg | Bayer Leverkusen | Bayern Munich | Bochum | Borussia Dortmund | Borussia Mönchengladbach | Cologne | Eintracht Frankfurt | Freiburg | Hertha Berlin | Hoffenheim | Mainz | RB Leipzig | Schalke | Union Berlin | Werder Bremen | Wolfsburg
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