Stuttgart - A turbulent week for VfB Stuttgart culminates with them hosting a resurgent 1899 Hoffenheim side, spearheaded by a threatening young attacking trio, at the Mercedes-Benz-Arena (15.30 CEST).
Stuttgart appointed Thomas Schneider as Bruno Labbadia's successor on Monday and in the former youth coach’s first game the side conceded a last-minute equaliser to HNK Rijeka to be knocked out of the UEFA Europa League.
Following on from that disappointment, Schneider will be aiming to reinvigorate the club by picking up their first three points of the season on Sunday. Despite a poor start, their Bundesliga campaign has not been all doom and gloom - Vedad Ibisevic, a former Hoffenheim hero, has scored twice already, whilst all three losses have come by a solitary goal. Ibisevic highlighted the “disappointment” surrounding the club, but claimed VfB are, “prepared for a difficult game and we know we’ll have to work hard for the three points”.
His coach Schneider pointed out how impressed he has been with the “complete focus” of his players. The new man echoed previous Stuttgart statements by saying his aims were “to eradicate individual errors, which cannot be permitted at this level”. The 39-year-old continued by stating that previous results weren’t affecting his charges who are “playing in an unconcerned fashion [in training] which should result in a sophisticated style of football”.
After the 3-3 in the derby with SC Freiburg last week, Hoffenheim face another local side on Matchday 4. The club's front three of Anthony Modeste, Roberto Firmino, and Kevin Volland, have scored seven goals in three Bundesliga games this season and shot to national prominence after their Matchday 2 rout of Hamburger SV.
Unbeaten in the league, Hoffenheim coach Markus Gisdol wasn’t unduly worried about what effect the change of manager could have on his opposition, telling the press that he “would only focus on [his] own side’s performance because that was the only thing under [his] control”. When questioned about his attacking trio, Gisdol was effusive in his praise, affirming his delight that “we’ve got the capability of scoring in every game we play” .
Stuttgart have little to worry about concerning injuries and Gisdol pointed out that “because Schneider's a new coach he could do anything - we have to be on guard”. Daniel Schwaab is expected to make his 100th Bundesliga appearance - while Martin Harnik will celebrate his 100th game for the club.
Hoffenheim will be without midfielder Sejad Salihovic who is serving a suspension after his sending-off against Freiburg. Midfielder Sebastian Rudy has pulled tendons in his hip and will also be missing.
VfB Stuttgart: Ulreich - G. Sakai, Schwaab, Rüdiger, Rausch - Leitner, Maxim, Gentner - Harnik, Ibisevic, Cacau
1899 Hoffenheim: Casteels - Beck, Abraham, Vestergaard, F. Johnson - Polanski, Strobl - Volland, Firmino, Elyounoussi - Modeste