The architect of that memorable triumph seven years ago, Armin Veh, is back at the rudder and after several seasons of underachievement, the expectations are on the rise at the Mercedes-Benz Arena once again. bundesliga.com analyses Stuttgart's chances of success in 2014/15...
2013/14 may not have been 's most prolific season, but one could say his form reflected that of his side. However, he still got into double figures with ten goals in 27 league appearances, even if that was a drop of five on the previous year and eight less than his single-season best from 2008/09, when he only played half of the campaign. Injury reduced his appearances last term, but the Bosnia & Herzegovina striker remains the man Stuttgart will be relying on with his sharp eye for goal.
Stuttgart are producing several exciting youngsters and perhaps none more so than . The Romanian scored seven and chipped in with twelve assists for the Swabians last season, once again displaying the potential he had shown in glimpses during his first campaign in the Bundesliga. The tricky midfielder is also a set-piece specialist, whether that means creating or indeed scoring goals from dead ball situations.
It is often said that things are never as good the second time around, but Armin Veh will be hoping for quite the opposite during his second spell as Stuttgart coach. His first term saw the Swabians win Germany's top flight in 2007 and although he may not be following quite the same objectives in 2014/15, getting the three-time Bundesliga champions back among the sides challenging for silverware is his motivation behind returning.
Along with Hamburger SV, Stuttgart changed coaches twice last term – Bruno Labbadia making way for Thomas Schneider, who was in turn replaced by Huub Stevens. The Dutchman's experienced hand ensured survival with a game to spare, but having accomplished what he was appointed for, he stepped aside for Veh's return. "Last season was catastrophic," admitted sporting director Fredi Bobic (pictured). "We were naïve, me included, and we did not have the right blend in the team."
That naivety should not be repeated in 2014/15 with Veh's track record giving rise to justifiable optimism in Baden-Württemberg's capital. "Twelfth place cannot be our aim," proclaimed the former Eintracht Frankfurt coach. However, a top-half finish or indeed a tilt at Europe will only be possible if the blend which was lacking last season can be found early on, and held together for the duration of a season which is likely to be more transitional than glorious.
Veh had the pleasure of working with a top-scorer who was not actually a striker in the last two seasons at Frankfurt, and the way he got midfielder Alexander Meier rattling in the goals for the Eagles is an indication of the style he will be adopting in Stuttgart. That can only be good news for the likes of Alexandru Maxim, and , while in Ibisevic, he also has the bonus of a seasoned goalgetter to sit atop what promises to be an attack-minded set-up.
Veh preferred a rather gentle introduction for his side to pre-season, arranging games they would have expected to win in an attempt to raise confidence levels after a disappointing season. It worked to a certain extent with six wins, one draw and two defeats, including against UEFA Europa League participants Hull City AFC. However, a 2-0 loss to Bundesliga 2 side Bochum in the opening round of the DFB Cup could have put the Swabians right back where they started.