Mario Gomez has compared his Stuttgart side to La Liga giants Atletico Madrid following the Swabians’ backs-to-the-wall victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday.
Gomez helped VfB take the lead after just five minutes at the Mercedes-Benz Arena on Matchday 22, splitting the Foals defence with an exquisite through-ball from which Daniel Ginczek opened the scoring, but Gladbach rallied in the second half and went close to salvaging a draw late on.
The 2007 Bundesliga winners held on, though, to haul themselves four points clear of the Bundesliga’s bottom three and earn Tayfun Korkut his first win since replacing Hannes Wolf as Stuttgart head coach in January.
Watch: Gomez: "We defended like Atletico Madrid"
“We were defending like crazy towards the end,” Gomez told bundesliga.com afterwards. “We were defending a bit like Atletico Madrid today! Of course with the ball we could do much better, but that doesn’t matter. We won the game, that’s what we wanted. I’m really happy today.”
Goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler, who pulled off crucial saves to deny Lars Stindl and Thorgan Hazard in the second half, echoed Gomez’s sentiments at full-time. “The early lead meant we could invite Gladbach onto us a little bit,” the former Leicester City custodian told vfb.de. “We showed today that we’re solid at the back and we hardly gave them any chances. I always felt confident in the defence in front of me.”
Indeed, while Stuttgart have struggled for goals for the majority of the campaign - finding the net just 18 times - their backline has proved difficult to breach, particularly on home soil. The Baden-Württemberg giants have shipped just 11 league goals at the Mercedes-Benz Arena this season, and just 27 overall. Only fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt and runaway leaders Bayern Munich have conceded less in 2017/18.
However, Gomez accepts the Bundesliga 2 champions may need to produce Atletico Madrid-esque displays on a more frequent basis in order to avoid an immediate return to Germany’s second tier, starting with Sunday’s clash with in-form Augsburg at the WWK Arena.
“We can’t stop now,” warned the former Bayern and Wolfsburg frontman. “Anything can happen in the Bundesliga. It’s a crazy league this season, but we want to go to Augsburg and win the game. We definitely have the quality to do so.”