Hannes Wolf (c.) masterminded Stuttgart's promotion by sticking to the club's principles and DNA. - © gettyimages / Thomas Niedermueller
Hannes Wolf (c.) masterminded Stuttgart's promotion by sticking to the club's principles and DNA. - © gettyimages / Thomas Niedermueller
Bundesliga

New-look Stuttgart primed for Bundesliga return

As goals from Claudio Pizarro, Fin Bartels and Anthony Ujah sent the fans at the Weser Stadium wild, VfB Stuttgart's supporters knew their destiny was practically sealed.

A 6-2 win for the northern Germany side on that Monday night in early May 2016 saw the two teams exchange places, Stuttgart dropping into the bottom two and Bremen rising out of it. Two more defeats to conclude the season sealed the Swabians' fate, with their 41-year presence in the Bundesliga brought to an end.

Of the players who took to the field that night in Bremen just over a year ago, only three remain on the club's books: full-backs Matthias Zimmerman and Emiliano Insua, and midfielder Alexandru Maxim. Captain Christian Gentner and forward Daniel Ginczek were unavailable that night, but they too chose to stick with the club following relegation.

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- © gettyimages / Dennis Grombkowski

That DNA is about showing faith in their own academy and believing in young, talented players. With two-time youth championship winner Wolf, who arrived from Borussia Dortmund, the chemistry was right for the kind of reaction the club needed, and it is with the same philosophy that the 2007 Bundesliga champions will return to German football's top table a decade on from that title-winning success.

Twenty-one-year-old Timo Baumgartl is now the pillar of the defence, not his ten-year senior Niedermeier. Twenty-five-year-old Zimmermann has emerged as a man for all occasions in defence and midfield, while 18-year-old Croatian forward Josip Brekalo and 21-year-old French full-back Benjamin Pavard are regulars, and his compatriot Jerome Onguene is set to earn his stripes in German football this season.

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- © gettyimages