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Stuttgart vs Borussia Dortmund preview:
Matarazzo's charges aiming to make it five unbeaten

By Ben Sully   @SullyBen

Stuttgart will be hoping to take advantage of a downbeat Dortmund side, when they play host to Marco Rose's outfit to get Matchday 29 off and running.
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Sitting just a point clear of the bottom three, Stuttgart would have preferred a slightly easier fixture than second-placed Dortmund, although, across their last five matches the Swabians have collected the same number of points as their opponents.

In fact, Pellegrino Matarazzo's side enter Friday's contest in high spirits after avoiding defeat in their last four matches. The unbeaten run was ignited by a comeback win against Borussia Mönchengladbach before Saša Kalajdžić rescued a point in the next fixture to hold Union Berlin to a 1-1 draw.

As they began to almost relish picking up points from losing positions, Stuttgart dished up another comeback special to turn around a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 win against Augsburg.

For all of the momentum that has been built in recent weeks, Matarazzo would have been frustrated that his team could not take advantage of a 1-0 lead against fellow relegation strugglers Arminia Bielefeld last weekend, as a Florian Krüger strike ensured the spoils would be shared.

Friday's hosts are the only Bundesliga side yet to keep a home clean sheet this term, and with the joint second-highest scorers in the league coming to town, Stuttgart may have to be in fine goalscoring touch themselves if they are to take anything from the contest.
Team News

Kalajdžić has been crucial to Stuttgart in recent weeks, scoring three goals in their last four matches, but his side will have to do without him on Friday, with the Austrian unavailable after testing positive for COVID-19. At the pre-match press conference, Matarrazo did suggest Kalajdžić's absence does present the chance to play "one more fast player."

Silas and Naouirou Ahamada, meanwhile, are among those that will miss out through injury, while Waldemar Anton is suspended for an accumulation of yellow cards. In more positive news, Borna Sosa returns after missing the Bielefeld clash.

Borussia Dortmund

Their hosts may be buoyed by a four-game unbeaten run, but Dortmund are in a despondent mood after they were thrashed 4-1 by RB Leipzig last weekend. To make matters worse, Dortmund were playing in front of a sold-out home crowd for the first time in two years, but rather than being treated to a dazzling display from their side, it was the visitors who put on a show to end any lingering title hopes for Die Schwarzgelben.

No silverware will be coming to Signal Iduna Park this season, but Dortmund's main priority now will be to secure second spot. With Bayer Leverkusen, six points behind it seems as though Marco Rose's side are destined to finish runners-up, but Friday's hosts cannot afford to take their eye off the ball with six games still to play.

Having conceded no more than one goal in each of their six league matches prior to the home meeting with Leipzig, Die Schwarzgelben would have been frustrated to witness their newfound defensive resilience blown apart by Domenico Tedesco's side. Rose will be challenging his defence to offer tougher resistance on Friday as Dortmund look to extend their current unbeaten away run in the Bundesliga to seven matches.
Team News

Felix Passlack, Nico Schulz, Steffen Tigges and Thomas Meunier are all still absent for the visitors, although they did welcome Marco Reus back last weekend with the 32-year-old expected to retain his place in the starting lineup. Donyell Malen, meanwhile, looks set to miss out after it was noted that the Dutchman did not travel with the squad for Friday's contest.

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