Bouncing back into the Bundesliga at the first time of asking is no mean feat: congratulations, Stuttgart!
Hannes Wolf's young side will be back in the big time next season after beating Würzburger Kickers 4-1 on Sunday, a result which secured the Swabians the Bundesliga 2 title. Allow bundesliga.com to re-introduce you to one of Germany's best-known clubs...
Who are Stuttgart?
Founded in 1893, Stuttgart are one of Germany's oldest, most successful and most storied clubs. Located in southwestern Germany, in the prosperous state of Baden-Württemberg to be precise, VfB (Verein für Bewegungsspiele – Athletic Club) are have won the Bundesliga three times (1984, 1992, 2007) and the DFB Cup on three occasions (1954, 1958 1997). Nicknamed Die Schwaben (The Swabians), Stuttgart play their football in the 60,449-seater Mercedes-Benz Arena, the stadium name paying homage to the city's automobile industry. The club also boasts a thriving youth academy: seven of the 24 members of the most recent Germany squad had been involved in the club's youth set-up (Bernd Leno, Joshua Kimmich, Sebastian Rudy, Mario Gomez, Timo Werner, Sami Khedira, Antonio Rüdiger).
Watch: Stuttgart's Top 10 goals this season!
The new Stuttgart
Talented youngsters remain prominent in the club's current squad: all born after 1995, Timo Baumgartl, Benjamin Pavard, Josip Brekalo, Julian Green Anto Grgic and Ebenezer Ofori have all played important roles this season. Coach Hannes Wolf has blended a fine, versatile squad from the young talent at his disposal, relying on older heads such as Alexandru Maxim, Christian Gentner and Simon Terodde to steer the club through tougher times. Comfortably the top-scoring side in the second tier with 64 goals in their 34 matches, Stuttgart have played fine football this season, threatening particularly from the wide areas.
Youth is not just limited to on the pitch: at just 36, club coach Wolf is the third-youngest coach in Germany's top two divisions, and will become the second-youngest Bundesliga coach next season. His success is made more remarkable by the fact that he took over from Jos Luhukay mid-season: the side sat fifth following his first game in charge (a 1-1 draw at Bochum on Matchday 7), but quickly climbed to the top of the pile, winning 18 of Wolf's 29 games. After a nomadic playing career, the Bochum native cut his coaching teeth at Borussia Dortmund, and was in charge of the club's reserves when Stuttgart came calling back in September.
If Wolf's attacking philosophy has played a major role in Stuttgart bouncing straight back up, then the key player in that attack has been Simon Terodde. The 29-year-old striker has scored 25 goals in 33 games this season, including six braces and one hat-trick. A classic penalty-box predator, Terodde has thrived from the service provided by Carlos Mane, Green and Brekalo, Stuttgart's wide players.
How they did it
Wolf's attacking philosophy has played a key role: as mentioned, VfB have scored more goals than any side in the second division, but only four sides have conceded fewer goals than the Swabian outfit. Following a chastening 5-0 defeat at Dynamo Dresden in his third game in charge, Wolf went back to the drawing board, with youngster Baumgartl and veteran Argentinian Emiliano Insua flourishing. Taking points in the big games has also proved crucial: VfB beat promotion rivals Eintracht Braunschweig and Union Berlin at home and drew with both on the road.