Stuttgart v Hamburg – Mercedes-Benz Arena at  14:30

Stuttgart bounced back to the Bundesliga at the first attempt following relegation. The Cannstatt Boys gave Borussia Dortmund’s reserve team manager Hannes Wolf the gig of reviving their fortunes and despite a slow start, the Swabian side concluded the campaign as champions.

A positive opening stanza to life back in the top-flight (W5-D2-L6) saw Stuttgart perched in mid-table and the 36-year-old receiving plenty of plaudits. But that’s when the story started to turn sour for VFB and Wolf.

Seven defeats in eight outings across all competitions from December saw the Cannstatt Boys slide down the Bundesliga standings, as well as exiting the DFB Pokal. The Swabians were sitting just three points above the drop-zone and Wolf appeared to admit he’d run out of ideas in his bid to stem the bleeding.

Korkut’s surprising success

The club cut their losses and mutually agreed to go their separate ways, a decision that angered Stuttgart’s loyal supporters. Fans protested against the decision, suggesting the club’s issues all originated at boardroom level and their frustration only intensified when Tayfun Korkut was appointed as Wolf’s replacement.

Although a local, Korkut’s underwhelming managerial career meant many expected VFB to continue to disintegrate on their way immediately back to the second division. Nobody expected Stuttgart to enjoy the ‘new manager bounce’ and few foresaw the Cannstatt Boys winning away for the first time this season.

That’s what Korkut’s achieved three times in his first four road trips as Stuttgart boss, guided the club to W5-D2-L0 in their last seven matches. That positive run of results has even lifted VFB into the top-half of the Bundesliga table and well clear of the relegation dogfight.

If Stuttgart is looking up, Hamburg is desperately seeking any sort of support to even contemplate staying in the top-tier.

Dinosaur in dire straights

The only club never to be relegated from the Bundesliga may have finally run its course. HSV has relentlessly competed at the highest level of German football for 55 seasons, winning the title six times, but Der Dino is in dire straits.

A wretched campaign has left one of the country’s most historic clubs on the verge of demotion. Hamburg is facing up to the prospect of playing the 100th year of their history in Bundesliga 2.

The north German club only gathered 18 points from 27 games. They’ve scored a league-low 19 goals. A change of manager hasn’t delivered the desired boost and with seven games to go there is a seven-point gap to the relative safety of a relegation play-off place. The odds are stacked against them.

Stuttgart have W6-D1-L0 when welcoming teams below them in the table and are unlikely to have any mercy on their rock-bottom guests. With Hamburg having collected only five points from the past (W0-D5-L9) 42 on offer, it’s easy enough to oppose the visitors and back VFB to cover a -0.50 Asian Handicap at 1.82.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Stuttgart -0.50 at 1.793

By @MarkOHaire

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