Stuttgart - Borussia Dortmund could officially relinquish their Bundesliga title this weekend if they fail to pick up maximum points from their trip to VfB Stuttgart on Saturday (kick-off 15:30 CET).
The Westphalians may have already admitted defeat in a successful second defence of their crown, but they will nevertheless be keen to keep FC Bayern Munich’s hands off their prized possession for a little longer.
Only a win can ensure the title remains theirs for at least another week, but a draw or defeat gives match point to Bayern on Saturday evening when they host Hamburger SV. The omens aren't good for the visitors, who have drawn recent games with Stuttgart. “0-0, 1-1, 2-2 and 8-8, or something like that,” said coach Jürgen Klopp, reflecting on the last four meetings between the two sides, which all ended even. “They were always tight and intensive games,” he added.
In a bid to end the parity and notch three points this time, Klopp can rely on his German and Polish hotshots. , and accounted for on Tuesday while and were on target in Poland’s 5-0 win over San Marino. “We’ve got both of Poland’s goalscorers in our team,” said Klopp, who cannot count on the third Polish star due to a groin strain he picked up in that same match.
Treat in store
Mats Hummels remains sidelined, but Klopp is not hunting for excuses in those players who are unavailable. “We can cope with the minor personnel difficulties we have,” he said. “Just as long as we don’t get any more.” His Stuttgart counterpart Bruno Labbadia likewise has enough personnel concerns of his own, with Cacau expected to miss the rest of the season and Cristian Molinaro ruled out through suspension.
The 22 players on the field are still likely to serve up a treat, if the same fixture a year ago to the day is anything to go by. Back then, the two sides played out one of the most entertaining games in recent Bundesliga history with the sides not finishing 8-8 as Klopp posited, but 4-4.
That goal-filled thriller took place at the Signal Iduna Park, but similar fireworks can be expected in Stuttgart on Saturday. “It’s fantastic to play here at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in front of a sell-out crowd against the defending German champions,” said Stuttgart goalkeeper Sven Ulreich. “We hope we can create an upset with our fans behind us. We want to get the fans on board with us again.”
A 2-1 win last time out in Eintracht Frankfurt will have helped on that note - not that the Stuttgart No1 is taken anything for granted at this pivotal stage in the campaign. “Everything is so tight in the Bundesliga and it can go up as quickly as it can go down,” he said. “Therefore, we must not make the mistake of saying that we are no longer involved in the relegation battle. We just need to get more points on the board.”
Stuttgart: Ulreich - Sakai, Tasci, Niedermeier, Boka - Gentner, Okazaki - Harnik, Maxim, Traore - Ibisevic
Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Subotic, Felipe Santana, Schmelzer - Gündogan, Sahin - Großkreutz, Götze, Reus - Lewandowski