Goal.com looks forward to Sunday's crunch Bundesliga tie between struggling Stuttgart and inconsistent Werder Bremen...
Can Keller's Men Transfer European Form To The Bundesliga?
After making their worst start to a Bundesliga campaign in over 30 years Stuttgart have impoved of late. However danger still looms as the Baden-Wuerttemburg club hover in the relegation play-off position. Die Schwaben suffered a 2-0 away defeat at the hands of Wolfsburg last weekend but of late, there has been a marked improvement in their performances."The defeat is really bitter, especially as Wolfsburg weren't necessarily the better team," Stuttgart midfielder Christian Traesch told the club's website.
"We just did too little going forward and often it was the telling ball through that was missing. The two goals from corners should never have happened."
However it has been a different story in the Europa League for Jens Keller's men. On Thursday evening the club booked their position in the knockout stages of the competition with an impressive 3-0 away victory over Getafe, their fourth win in as many games to maintain their 100% record.
Stuttgart will certainly be hoping to continue this form into Sunday's crunch tie with Bremen and Keller believes the momentum is now there.
"I am very satisfied with the performance of the team today. The important thing is that the momentum is there," the coach told media after the win against Getafe.
"We played very well and we want to continue now where we left off tonight."
Time will tell if Stuttgart can carry over their excellent European form to the Bundesliga and Sunday will be the perfect opportunity to start their ascent up the league table.
Werder Look To Continue Improved Away Form
Thomas Schaaf's men will be glad to welcome back Tim Wiese back in between the sticks after some jittery performances from his deputant Sebastian Mielitz. The German international has missed the last fortnight, a period where Bremen have conceded eight in four games in all competitions and not kept one clean sheet.
Bremen will also be buoyed by the fact they picked up their first Bundesliga away victory of the season on their last league visit on the road, a thumping 4-1 win at Moenchengladbach. A trip away from the Weserstadion may be a welcome distraction for a team who have been defeated twice at home in the last week.
However Schaaf acknowledges that Sunday's opponents will be tough as they will be fighting to improve on their poor league position. "There are some clubs who expected to be in other positions and had slow starts to the season. That certainly is the case with Stuttgart," Bremen head coach told the club's official website.
"They were also hit with numerous injuries in the first couple games and are now fighting to catch up on the table."
What is for sure is that both sides will be gunning for victory as they both strive to improve on league positions that do not reflect the ability of each respective squad.
The home side have several players still out and are especially weakened in defence. Serdar Tasci will miss the game with a hamstring problem while Khalid Bhoularouz and Stefano Celozzi are both likely to sit out with thigh strains. Phillipp Degen (groin) and Pavel Pogrebnyak (ankle) are both ruled out but the likes of Matthieu Delpierre, Cipran Marica and Arthur Boka are all back in contention after coming through Thursday's Europa League tie with Getafe unscathed.
Probable Starting XI: Ulreich - Funk, Niedermeier, Delpierre, Molinaro - Camoranesi, Traesch, Kuzmanovic, Gebhart - Cacau, Marica
Werder have several first team players out. Petri Pasanen and Clement Fritz (both muscular) miss out so Phillip Bargfrede is once again expected to deputise at right-back. Tim Borowski (ankle), Naldo (knee) and Christian Vander (groin) will all miss the trip to Stuttgart this weekend. Some positive news for Schaaf's men is the return of Tim Wiese who will relegate Sebastian Mielitz to the bench.
Probable Starting XI: Wiese - Bargfrede, Proedl, Mertesacker, Wesley - Marin, Frings, Jensen, Hunt, Almeida, Pizarro
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