Stuttgart v Hamburg – Mercedes Benz Arena at 17:30 live on BT Sport Europe
Nine years ago Stuttgart pulled off an incredible feat by clinching the Bundesliga title. Since that momentous day, their fifth top-tier title, the club have failed to come close to reaching those dizzy heights.
The past two campaigns have seen VFB flirt with the drop and 2015/16 was looking like yet another miserable season for Swabian supporters. Alex Zorniger was sacked after taking just 0.80 points-per-game during his tenure and gone are the days of the crazed and highly volatile pressing system of the former coach.
The calming influence of Jürgen Kramny has brought a degree of confidence and results to the VFB camp. His more reactive and sustainable approach has brought about a five-match unbeaten run – their best run of results since February 2013 – and back-to-back Bundesliga victories for the first time this term.
Stuttgart have always had enough quality in the final third to ensure survival – even a top-half finish – and their deeper line under Kramny has at least given the club more control, as seen in last weekend’s impressive 3-1 success at Koln.
The Billy Goats, the epitome of an unadventurous but highly organised outfit, were rendered a total mess by the Swabians over the course of the 90 minutes despite taking an early lead from the penalty spot. Daniel Didavi, Filip Kostic and Timo Werner all produced splendid performances as VFB’s counter-attacking game deservedly clinched maximum points for the visitors.
Speaking post-match, Kramny said it was an “end to wild west football’ with captain and goalscorer, Christian Gentner, stressing that his team’s game had “totally changed” under the new management since November. “We don’t defend as high up the pitch, we don’t press as manically and everything doesn’t go up in flames the moment somebody gets beaten.”
That’s encouraging to hear and so the relegation battlers can continue their good run of results and enhance their survival prospects by beating Hamburg at the Mercedes-Benz Arena on Saturday evening. VFB have beaten the northerners in seven of their last 10 as hosts and are more than capable of doing so again.
Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund were the only top-half teams in the Bundesliga to return from the winter break with wins last weekend. Bayern were made to work hard for theirs against Hamburg but Bruno Labbadia’s men have now managed just a solitary point from 12 – their longest winless streak since he returned to the job (W0-D1-L3).
And with only four sides firing in fewer shots-on-target, HSV may not have the firepower to match their hosts.
Stuttgart’s performance data suggests they’re a top-half team in the making and Krammy’s tweaks have cemented that assumption.
So take the Swabians at 2.00 to make it three wins on the spin this Saturday when backing the hosts off a -0.50 Asian Handicap.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Stuttgart -0.50 Asian Handicap at 2.00
Prices correct at the time of writing.
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