We head to the Mercedes-Benz arena for the next round of the Pokal to take on Stuttgart in what is one of most important games of the month. With TT's choice of subs in our Bundesliga match against Hertha Berlin, it is clear that he is going to favor the Pokal above the league for the rest of the year. This may not be the worst idea as we sit 8 points behind league leaders Bayern Munich and 10 points ahead of third place Hertha.
Stuttgart has been in better form since the start of the Bundesliga, getting themselves 4 places out of relegation even though they still have one of the worst goal differences in the league. They are tied for having the worst defence in the league letting up 41 goals in 20 matches. Their offence has shown lethality, which is why they are an opponent in the winner take all game.
As far as their personnel goes, they have their fair share of dangerous players. Daniel Didavi plays as a true 10 for Stuttgart and leads the team in goals with 9 and has totaled three assists this season as well. He scored the lone goal against us in November and his speed has been tormenting teams all season. His partner in crime is German starlet Timo Werner who plays as the lone striker in the formation. He has 4 goals and 3 assist in the year, using his speed and skill to pick up through balls easily and his accurate finishing, leaves most goalkeepers in lost in a could of dust. On the defensive side of the game, the best piece Stuttgart have is Przemyslaw Tyton, their goalkeeper. While he does have his sloppy games, Tyton has had a great showing in the last few games, making the highlight reel for his diving saves. With all the chances we get game to game, we have to hope we can wear him down, especially when their defence is so weak.
The most interesting narrative going into the game will be due to Stuttgart's new addition Kevin Großkreutz. The former BVB man who left us in the summer, originally went to Turkey, but after not settling in well he returned to Stuttgart in January. I expect him to get a standing ovation from our away fans as he was always a fan favorite in his years here. He was apart of both our recent championship seasons and our Pokal victory. Honestly, with our current lack of depth I wish we never let him walk. Nevertheless, he will be a big threat against us as he's already scored three times since arriving in the beginning of January.
As for our lineup, I imagine we'll be seeing something similar to the Hertha game. The big changes TT will probably make will be to put Kagawa in at the central midfielder spot and to shift Castro out to the wing. Hummels and Sokratis will probably stay in the CB positions, with Durm or Park taking the LB and Piszczk at the RB. Auba was subbed out early last game, so he will probably start as well, but if not we get to watch Ramos at striker (which at least is better than Ramos as a winger). I'd expect the holding midfielders to be some combination of two between Weigl, Ginter and Guendogan. So pretty much the usual expected lineup for the Black and Yellows.
Last time we faced Stuttgart, Auba netted two and Castro netted once. The Castro goal was also in the third minute, which shows how unsettled this Stuttgart defence really is. Also, Stuttgart got an own goal courtesy of their CB Niedermeier. Hopefully things will go our way again.