Stuttgart v Augsburg – Mercedes-Benz Arena at 14:30
Stuttgart bounced back to the Bundesliga at the first time of asking, taking the second-tier title in the process. It wasn’t as comfortable as the claim suggests – the Swabians needed to win six of their final seven matches to secure top spot – but under Hannes Wolf’s watch, the former champions are on the way up.
Wolf arrived at the Mercedes-Benz-Arena with a glowing reputation from Dortmund’s youth system and quickly put VfB back on track after a slow start to their 2 Bundesliga campaign. Attacking home form was the bedrock of Stuttgart’s season as Saturday’s hosts overpowered the majority of their opposition.
But with important playmaker Alexandru Maxim moving on in the summer, the Swabians have taken a different approach to life back in the top-flight. Last season Wolf’s charges picked up maximum points in 13 of their 17 league outings and they’ve continued their great form with back-to-back Bundesliga triumphs here.
New approach reduces goals in Stuttgart’s games
However, both victories have arrived by the slightest of margins (1-0) with Stuttgart taking a more conservative outlook. That’s probably understandable coming up against better sides and with a defense that can boast swathes of experience in Ron-Robert Zieler, Holger Badstuber, and Dennis Aogo.
Badstuber should return from injury here to replace Marcin Kaminski in the back-three and although captain Christian Gentner remains absent, I still expect VFB’s organized and cautious system to lead us towards a profitable path.
Thus far, four of the Swabians five fixtures have featured Under 2.5 Goals and with 1.97 available on a repeat on Saturday, I’m more than happy to invest interest in another low-scoring clash when Augsburg arrive.
The visitors consolidated their position in the top-tier last term but it was a fair mish-mash campaign. Dirk Schuster was replaced by Manuel Baum in December and although the Fuggerstädter did enough to avoid the relegation places, Augsburg did finish just a point above the play-off positions.
Augsburg to join the low-scoring party
Goals were a constant cause of consternation. FCA managed only 35 in 2016/17 as the side focused on their reasonably stable and solid defense. Such was Augsburg’s safety-first approach that only two Bundesliga teams’ games produced fewer goals per-game.
The visitors do arrive on the back of a three-match winning streak but with captain Daniel Baier absent through suspension in central midfield, Rani Khedira might need to move forward from center-half with Baum potentially switching to a back-four to combat such a move.
Even so, nine of Augsburg’s last 15 away days have seen no more than two goals so alongside Stuttgart’s early season indicators, there’s reason to believe the goals line might not be troubled at the Mercedes-Benz-Arena on Saturday.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Under 2.5 Goals at 1.97
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