If you want to see Pellegrino Matarazzo, Nico Gonzalez and Thomas Hitzlsperger all in one place, VfB Stuttgart is where you need to be. bundesliga.com profiles the German top flight's returning southern giants...
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 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.
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 to Union Berlin in the play-offs. They'll have the chance to face the capital club on the big stage in 2020/21, though, after bouncing straight back to the Bundesliga for the second time in four years, having secured the 2019/20 Bundesliga 2 runners-up berth behind Arminia Bielefeld.
Latter-day stars Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich and Timo Werner are among those to have been reared in Stuttgart's vaunted youth academy, while ex-Germany international Hitzlsperger is the club's current CEO.
3x Bundesliga champions (1984, 1992, 2007)
3x DFB Cup winners (1954, 1958, 1997)
2x Bundesliga 2 winners (1977, 2017)
2x Intertoto Cup winners (2000, 2002)
German Supercup winners (1992)
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. Stuttgart had won 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 RB Leipzig counterpart Julian Nagelsmann, whom he worked under at Hoffenheim, and will become the first full-time American coach to grace Germany's top flight when Stuttgart officially return to the big stage in September 2020.
Mario Gomez scored in his final appearance as a player on the final day of 2019/20. It was his 110th goal in 230 competitive appearances for his boyhood club, but only seventh of a campaign spent playing second fiddle to Gonzalez. The 22-year-old Argentine - who scored twice in 30 games as VfB were relegated to the second tier at the end of his first year in Germany - found his feet in the season just gone, scoring a team-leading 14 goals and laying on three assists. His form at the business end of the season was been particularly impressive, with eight of his goals falling in Stuttgart's nine matches following the coronavirus-enforced hiatus. Perhaps that impressive strike rate should come as no great surprise from a player who started out at Argentinos Juniors, the former home of Fernando Redondo, Juan Roman Riquelme and the legendary Diego Maradona.
Stuttgart were consistent from start to finish, residing exclusively in the top three since Matchday 3, and even topped the table under former coach Tim Walter prior to their aforementioned autumn slump. A derby defeat to Karlsruhe on Matchday 31 briefly knocked Stuttgart out of the top two and threatened to derail their promotion bid, but their response was emphatic: a 5-1 rout of Sandhausen and 6-0 drubbing of Nuremberg. Despite losing to Darmstadt of the final day, Matarazzo's side secured the runners-up berth with a three-point cushion over third-placed Heidenheim. No team scored more Rückrunde goals (34), while only champions Bielefeld conceded fewer.
Watch: Welcome back to the Bundesliga, VfB Stuttgart!
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
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.
Stuttgart airport, in nearby Echterdingen, is a comfortable half-hour ride from the centre of the city via a regular S-Bahn – or subway – 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.
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.
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 provide 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 Eurosport hosting one match per week.
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.