Stuttgart's unbeaten run under new coach Thomas Schneider will be put to the test by an Eintracht Frankfurt side flying after a 3-0 victory over 2009 French champions FC Girondins de Bordeaux in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday night.
'Better to be rested'
Stuttgart, however, believe that Thursday night matches will hinder Frankfurt in the long-run. Vedad Ibisevic, joint top of the Bundesliga scoring charts, claims that "it's better to be rested", before adding that Eintracht's European escapades mean that "we can prepare better for the Bundesliga, an advantage we have to use to run Frankfurt into the ground".
Schneider has goal-scoring memories of the Eagles himself. In the 1994/95 season he scored his first Bundesliga goal against this opposition in a 2-2 draw, but thinks such a result would be under-par this time. "We want to win all our home games," said the 40-year-old, "and for this, we need to retain our fighting spirit and improve our game going forward." In their last home game, however, VfB looked in fine fettle going forward as they hit 1899 Hoffenheim for six in their last home outing.
They may have to try and replicate that success without midfielder Moritz Leitner, whose availability is still unclear after injuring his knee on Wednesday. "We're monitoring him daily and we'll decide on Sunday whether he plays or not - it's important he's completely pain-free," continued Schneider.
Frankfurt's 3-0 midweek success was certainly impressive, but it did come at a cost, as midfielder Sebastian Rode is doubtful for Sunday's clash. Coach Armin Veh described him as "off-colour", while fellow midfielders Alexander Meier and Jan Rosenthal will not travel due to a thigh complaint and a calf injury respectively.
Armin Veh brushed off Stuttgart's buoyancy about the extra preparation time by establishing that "they may have had the extra time, but we're carrying self-belief into Sunday, which is far more important". Indeed, Veh accentuated his team's achievements by highlighting the differing sizes of the two clubs' squads. "Stuttgart's squad should really be playing in the Europa League. We've got players only just collecting continental experience."
A man with continental experience under his belt, new forward Vaclav Kadlec has proved key in Eintracht's recent successes, the Czech forward has hit three Bundesliga goals in as many games, as well as one in the victory over Bordeaux. Two of his goals game last week in the 3-0 victory against Werder Bremen, Frankfurt's second consecutive success on the road. After soaring in Europe, the Eagles will hope not to crash down to earth away to a resurgent Stuttgart.
VfB Stuttgart: Ulreich - Sakai, Haggui, Rüdiger, Boka - Gentner, Kvist - Traoré, Werner, Maxim - Ibisevic
Eintracht Frankfurt: Trapp - S. Jung, Zambrano, Anderson, Djakpa - Rode, Russ - Aigner, Barnetta, Inui - Kadlec