Bundesliga Preview: Stuttgart - Hertha Berlin
Bruno Labbadia's men will be looking to revive their bid for European qualification, while the visitors are in dire need of points to stave off a relegation battle
By Enis Koylu
Boulahrouz, Tasci, Maza, Sakai
Harnik, Kvist, Gentner, Okazaki
Morales, Hubnik, Mijatovic, Kobiashvili
Ebert, Ottl, Niemeyer, Raffael
Following his late red in his side's 2-2 draw with Leverkusen, Cristian Molinaro is suspended. The Italian's absence, coupled with Arthur Boka's continued involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations will give Gotoku Sakai a chance to start for Bruno Labbadia's side.
Ibrahima Traore has returned from his own campaign in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea with a groin strain, while Timo Gebhart is also missing after tearing abdominal muscles. Johan Audel is fit, but unlikely to start.
Hertha Berlin will also be without a player due to suspension. Sebastian Neumann has picked up one too many yellow cards and will miss the trip to the Mercedes Benz Arena. Elsewhere, Christian Lell has a muscle problem, Maik Franz has a torn cruciate ligament, and Fabian Lustenberger remains sidelined with a broken metatarsal.
||DID YOU KNOW|
- Both Stuttgart and Hertha Berlin's runs in the DFB-Pokal ended on Wednesday, with the former being beaten 2-0 by Bayern Munich, and the latter losing to Borussia Monchengladbach by the same scoreline.
- Markus Babbel, who won Hertha Berlin promotion back to the top flight last season, started his coaching career with Stuttgart.
- A goal from Raffael gave Hertha Berlin a 1-0 victory over Saturday's opponents in the first half of the season.
- The Berliners have lost just two of their last 11 meetings with the Mercedes Benz Arena side.
- A victory for Michael Skibbe's men would see them go level on points with Saturday's adversaries.
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Top 3 Predictions
VfB Stuttgart 2-1 Hertha BSC
- 27.42 %
VfB Stuttgart 2-0 Hertha BSC
- 16.13 %
VfB Stuttgart 1-1 Hertha BSC
- 11.29 %
|1. Bundesliga (GER1)||Sep 13, 2013||Hertha BSC 0 - VfB Stuttgart 1|
|1. Bundesliga (GER1)||Feb 11, 2012||VfB Stuttgart 5 - Hertha BSC 0|
|1. Bundesliga (GER1)||Aug 26, 2011||Hertha BSC 1 - VfB Stuttgart 0|
|1. Bundesliga (GER1)||Apr 10, 2010||Hertha BSC 0 - VfB Stuttgart 1|
|1. Bundesliga (GER1)||Nov 21, 2009||VfB Stuttgart 1 - Hertha BSC 1|
|Dec 7, 2013||VfB Stuttgart 4 - Hannover 96 2||GER1|
|Nov 30, 2013||Schalke 04 3 - VfB Stuttgart 0||GER1|
|Nov 22, 2013||VfB Stuttgart 0 - Borussia Mönchengladbach 2||GER1|
|Nov 10, 2013||SC Freiburg 1 - VfB Stuttgart 3||GER1|
|Nov 1, 2013||Borussia Dortmund 6 - VfB Stuttgart 1||GER1|
|4||William Kvist Jörgensen||Midfielder|
|12||Ronny Heberson Furtado de Araújo||Midfielder|
The Bundesliga has witnessed a number of top imports from Japan in recent years, with Borussia Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa and Stuttgart's own Shinji Okazaki standing as proof to this. The USA-born full-back is set to make his first appearance for his new club since his loan move from Albirex Niigata, and, as an unknown quantity for many, could be the next big hit in Germany's top flight.
An injury to either Miroslav Klose or Mario Gomez will leave a striking berth in Joachim Low's Germany squad, and given Lasogga's impressive form for the Under-21 team and at club level, the 20-year-old will consider himself on the cusp of his national team, and there will be no better way to prove his credentials by outshining Cacau, his main rival for a potential Germany place.
Although Stuttgart have an ostensibly stronger squad than the Berliners, Bruno Labbadia's men have been struggling for form in recent weeks. However, Hertha have been less than impressive, and have found themselves embroiled in a battle to avoid a hasty return to the second flight. With plenty at stake for both teams, I'd expect a tight affair with the hosts edging it thanks to their home advantage and superior array of talent.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed