Stuttgart v Borussia Mönchengladbach – Mercedes-Benz Arena at 14:30 live at Sky Sports
Hannes Wolf guided Stuttgart to promotion back to the Bundesliga as second division champions last season despite only arriving in Swabia in September 2016. The 36 year-old guided the Cannstatt Boys to W5-D2-L6 in their opening 13 outings but things soon turned sour at VFB.
From December, Stuttgart suffered seven defeats in eight across all competitions, sliding down the Bundesliga standings and exiting the DFB Pokal. From mid-table security, the Swabians were suddenly staring at the relegation zone, just three points above water.
Nevertheless, the Cannstatt Boys were competing well on their return to the top-flight so it came as a major surprise when the club announced they’d parted company with the highly-rated coach following a 2-0 home defeat to Schalke.
Unhappy Stuttgart supporters
Many Stuttgart fans felt the club were hasty with their decision and that Wolf deserved more time to turn the team’s fortunes around, with some supporters defending the coach on Twitter and saying the side’s problems originated at boardroom level.
Wolf had expressed doubts that his message was still being heard by his players and following late night discussions, sporting director Michael Reschke decided his position was untenable. If that provoked VFB fans then the subsequent appointment of Tayfun Korkut was met by anger and befuddlement.
Korkut might well be a Stuttgart native and boast previous experience coaching the club’s youth department but his record in management is underwhelming, to say the least. Spells with Leverkusen, Hannover and Kaiserslautern were all far from glorious and the Cannstatt Boys will do well to avoid immediate demotion under his stewardship.
Korkut’s first fixture in charge
Korkut opted to stick to Wolf’s previous 4-2-3-1 system for his opening match in charge of Stuttgart as they picked up a 1-1 draw in Wolfsburg. Mario Gomez again played a lone striker’s role with Daniel Ginczek providing impetus from the bench as VFB pinched a point with 10 minutes to play.
Gomez’s goal was only Stuttgart’s fourth in eight encounters and with results elsewhere going against Sunday’s hosts, the Cannstatt Boys are only now outside the relegation play-off spot on goal difference. Korkut may look to field both Gomez and Ginczek together in a 4-4-2 here but I’d expect the home side to batten down the hatches as they bid to eke out more precious points.
Veteran defender Holger Badstuber was back in full training earlier in the week and may feature and in doing so, Stuttgart’s steady defence should only improve. The Swabians have conceded the third lowest xG from open play average in the Bundesliga this season, providing the newly-promoted side with a solid base.
Few goals expected
A little too often Stuttgart have been crippled by their inability to open up opposition defences, too often reliant on their excellently-organised backline. So it’s no major surprise to see VFB’s matches produce the fewest average xG from open play opportunities in the division.
That’s led to Under 2.5 Goals being a regular winner with 14 of their 21 fixtures featuring fewer than three goals, including eight of their last nine outings. A chunky seven of their 10 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena have followed suit so backing a repeat at 2.11 appeals on Sunday.
Monchengladbach pitch up on the back of a disappointing 1-0 home defeat to RB Leipzig and Dieter Hecking’s troops have now lost and failed to score in each of their past two games. On their travels, the Foals have managed a solitary strike in four and five of their last seven contests have also paid out in the Under 2.5 Goals market.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Under 2.5 Goals at 2.040