Stuttgart have struggled mightily in the opening ten matches of the Bundesliga. Until last week, when they breezed past lowly VfL Bochum with a 4-1 win, Stuttgart had not won a single game in the league all season. The three points from last weekend was enough to pull them out of the relegation zone on goal difference, but it’s looking like Stuttgart are going to have a real fight on their hands to stay in the top tier of German football.
Despite all this, I’m a bit nervous for Borussia Dortmund to face Stuttgart tomorrow. Why? Because even though the gulf between BVB and Stuttgart’s positions in the league table is pretty wide, the gulf in performances is less so. The two clubs have actually scored the same amount of goals, and Stuttgart have only conceded one more than Dortmund. Although BVB’s expected goals are significantly better than Stuttgart’s, Die Schwaben are still roughly middle of the pack. Given BVB’s recent struggles, I could definitely see Stuttgart being a major trap opponent who manage to take points away at the Westfalenstadion.
Stuttgart Player to Watch: Wataru Endo
The Captain and undoubtedly one of Stuttgart’s most important players, Wataru Endo might not score a ton of goals, but he’s a very industrious player who does everything you want your midfielder to do. He wins possession, he retains the ball, he distributes it well, and he covers a ton of ground. BVB have struggled to play through the center of the pitch in recent weeks, so Jude Bellingham, Emre Can, and/or Salih Özcan will have quite a task in front of them to win the midfield battle and control the game.
With yesterday’s news that Thomas Meunier will miss the next four weeks with a broken cheekbone, Edin Terzic will have to improvise a bit. The key question will be how he chooses to deal with the right back’s absence. Felix Passlack is the next natural right back on the depth chart, and there’s still no sign of Marius Wolf being ready to return from his infection. Emre Can can also play right back.
Personally, my preferred solution would be to play Niklas Süle at right back. He played at right back against Bayern Munich, and I thought he looked really strong. It also prevents Edin Terzic playing a back three, which I strongly dislike with the current squad. Marco Reus looked solid in his return to the lineup against Union Berlin, so I wouldn’t mind seeing him start as the central piece in the attacking midfield.
Finally, I think both Gio Reyna and Thorgan Hazard have been in good form in recent weeks, especially Reyna. He was electric against Hannover in the midweek, so I’d love to see him get the start tomorrow.
I’ll be optimistic and predict a 2-0 win for Dortmund, with goals from Reus and Bellingham.