Based in the so-called cradle of the automobile, three-time Bundesliga champions VfB Stuttgart are motoring once again. - © DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga GmbH
Based in the so-called cradle of the automobile, three-time Bundesliga champions VfB Stuttgart are motoring once again. - © DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga GmbH
bundesliga

VfB Stuttgart Fanzone: Getting to know the three-time Bundesliga champions

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With American coach Pellegrino Matarazzo at the wheel, three-time Bundesliga champions VfB Stuttgart are once again motoring in the cradle of the automobile.

History

As the full name VfB Stuttgart 1893 eV suggests, they were originally formed in 1893, although the current club is the result of a merger of Stuttgarter Fußballverein and Kronen-Club Cannstatt on 2 April 1912. They moved into their current stadium – then known as the Neckar Stadium – in 1933 and went on to win two national titles before the Bundesliga's inception in 1963, with Stuttgart one of the newly-created German top-flight's founding members.

They were one of the last clubs to turn fully professional, with many players holding down regular jobs in their early years, but as they became increasingly successful – qualifying for the UEFA Cup for the first time in 1973 – professionalism was inevitable, and it came a few years later, after the shock of relegation to the second division shook the club's foundations. They bounced back to win their first Bundesliga title in 1984 and remained one of the league's strongest clubs through to winning another title in 1992, and for many years to come.

After another period of struggle, former Hamburg legend Felix Magath came in and delivered UEFA Champions League football in 2003/04, but it was Armin Veh who surprised many by guiding them to their third Bundesliga title in 2007, although success has remained elusive in the intervening years, which also included relegation to Bundesliga 2 in 2016.

Thomas Hitzlsperger (2nd.l) won the 2006/07 Bundesliga with Stuttgart, before returning to the club in 2019 as CEO. - imago sportfotodienst/imago sportfotodienst

Die Schwaben won the Bundesliga 2 title in 2016/17 under Hannes Wolf, and finished seventh on their return to the top flight, only to fall through the trap door once again at the end of 2018/19, losing on away goals to Union Berlin in the play-offs. They again bounced straight back to the Bundesliga for 2020/21 under Matarazzo, who has steadied a youthful ship and steered the club to a comfortable ninth place on their top-flight return.

Latter-day stars Serge GnabryJoshua Kimmich and Timo Werner are among those to have been reared in Stuttgart's vaunted youth academy, while ex-Germany international Thomas Hitzlsperger is the club's current CEO.

Honours

3x Bundesliga (1984, 1992, 2007)
2x German Championship (1950, 1952)
3x DFB Cup (1954, 1958, 1997)
2x Bundesliga 2 champions (1977, 2017)
2x Intertoto Cup (2000, 2002)
German Supercup (1992)
UEFA Cup runners-up (1989)
UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup runners-up (1998)

Coach

Matarazzo had been at Hoffenheim since January 2018 before taking on the head coach role at Stuttgart in December 2019, with the club in third place in Bundesliga 2. Stuttgart had won just three league games in the preceding three months, but took 27 points from a possible 42 under the New Jersey native during the Rückrunde. He continues to draw comparisons with colleague Julian Nagelsmann, whom he worked under at Hoffenheim, and is the first full-time American coach to grace Germany's top flight.

Pellegrino Matarazzo is the first American head coach in Bundesliga history. - Robin Rudel/Robin Rudel/Pressefoto Rudel/POO

Star man

Stuttgart is known for its strikers, from Jürgen Klinsmann and Karl Allgöwer, to the famous trio of Fredi Bobic, Giovane Elber and Krasimir Balakov, through to Mario Gomez and Cacau. The latest to follow in those big footsteps is the even bigger Sasa Kalajdzic. Standing at 6’6’’, the Austrian was the tallest player in the Bundesliga during 2020/21, so it’s little surprise that eight of his team-leading 16 league goals came from headers – the most of any player in the division. His run of seven straight games finding the back of the net also equalled Bobic’s club-record streak.

Watch: All 16 of Kalajdzic’s goals in 2020/21

Last season

As a promoted side, Stuttgart were very consistent on their top-flight return. They lost only twice in the first 12 games as they established a buffer over the places at the bottom end of the table, with the highlight being a 5-1 thrashing of Borussia Dortmund in Dortmund in December. Even a run of four straight defeats across April – by far their worst form of the season at a time when the pressure was really off already – failed to take the gloss off a solid campaign. Matarazzo’s inexperienced side – the youngest in the division – ultimately only missed out on Europe by only five points.

The stadium

The Mercedes-Benz Arena is one of 10 host stadiums for UEFA Euro 2024. Stuttgart's abode has undergone various renovations down the years, most recently having its pioneering roof membrane revamped in 2017. There's enough space for 60,449 fans, including 11,225 standing spots, but hide-away seats can be slid into place to ensure fixtures where standing is not permitted, such as UEFA competition, can have an all-seater capacity of 54,812.

Watch: Take a virtual tour of Stuttgart's Mercedes-Benz Arena

The city

Stuttgart’s history began just yards away from the Mercedes-Benz Arena, in Bad Cannstatt, the home of a Roman citadel from around 85/90 AD. Now the capital of Baden-Württemberg, industry has taken over in Stuttgart, the home to car manufacturers Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, and museums have been created to document the history of two of Germany’s most famous vehicle exports.

Getting there

Stuttgart airport, in nearby Echterdingen, is a comfortable half-hour ride from the centre of the city via a regular S-Bahn – suburban train – service, which also continues on to Bad Cannstatt – the closest station to the stadium – without needing to change train. Located just off the A8 motorway, which sweeps round to the south of the city, road connections are also efficient. Furthermore, Frankfurt airport is just over an hour away by high-speed train, while Munich can be reached in little over two hours.

Getting to the Mercedes-Benz Arena

Public transport is the best way to reach the Mercedes-Benz Arena, with a variety of options ensuring access to the venue. The aforementioned S-Bahn (S1) train stops at the NeckarPark station on matchdays, but Bad Cannstatt – which can be reached on two other lines – S2 and S3 – is just a 15-minute walk away. Furthermore, subway trains also operate exceptionally before and after matches to the nearby NeckarPark station, just a few minutes' walk from the entrance gates.

The impressive Mercedes-Benz Arena is located in the Bad Cannstatt area in the northeast of Stuttgart. - Arnulf Hettrich via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Arnulf Hettrich

There are several multi-storey car parks within a ten-minute walk of the stadium, for those who prefer to arrive by car. From the south, and the A8 motorway, the B10 towards the city centre should be followed, with the stadium exit clearly marked. A large parking area on the grounds of the city's annual Wasen beer festival is also available close to the B10/B14 highway.

Buying tickets

Tickets can be bought via the official club website HERE.

Watch on TV

If you can’t make it to the stadium, Bundesliga matches are broadcast around the world. ESPN provides coverage in the United States, while BT Sports are the exclusive broadcaster in the United Kingdom. In Germany, Sky Sports show the majority of matches, with DAZN hosting one match per week.

- VfB Stuttgart

Buying the kit

You can get your own Stuttgart jersey from the official club shop.

Stateside fan clubs

Stuttgart have various official fan clubs outside of Germany, including one in Cambridge, Massachusetts - American Stuttgart Fans - and Azteca Rot-Weiss in Queretaro, Mexico.