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Matarazzo discusses specialized "Rocky" training regimen, hints at start for Zagadou

By Peter Weis   @PeterVicey

VfB Stuttgart trainer Pellegrino Matarazzo dropped strong hints that the newly-acquired Dan-Axel Zagadou would be trusted with a starting position against Union this weekend when speaking during his Friday presser. 

The Italian-American also revealed that he had redesigned the squad training regimen this week into something resembling a "Rocky Balboa" montage. 
Dan-Axel Zagadou
Dan-Axel ZagadouJeollo von VfB-exklusiv.de CC-BY-SA 4.0
Acutely aware of the pressure boiling up around him, VfB Stuttgart's American head-coach noted that he had subjected his team to specialized training regimens ahead of Union Berlin this weekend. Pellegrino Matarazzo admitted that he had ordered some of his co-trainers to stand beside players with punching bags this week. Evidently, the Swabians' top trainer wants to instill a sense of fight in his team as they continue to seek their first league win of the season.


"That was something for the mind," Matarazzo explained on Friday whilst also revealing that he had organized a three-aside tournament, "There was something at stake.I tried to incorporate the proper stimuli into training. One won't be seeing the prettiest offensive football from us this week, but it should still be effective. That's the idea."

Presumably, Matarazzo meant to imply that his team's attack will be physical and fierce. It will certainly need to be against 1. FC Union Berlin, who still entered the weekend leading the Bundesliga table despite losing away at Frankfurt last week. Matarazzo conveyed respect for his opponent by specifically addressing Union's "deep-sit and counter" game.

"They run a lot, are brutal defensively, and have a ferocious transitional game," the coach noted, "the fact of the matter is that we've had trouble getting started against Union in recent years."

Stuttgart have actually not beaten Union in four tries during Matarazzo's tenure in the top flight. The Württembergers have drawn the Köpenickers thrice and lost once. As has often been the case over the last couple of years, the VfB trainer faces potentially devastating personnel problems ahead of the match.

Captain Wataru Endo had to be subbed off last week with a fibular bruise. Endo's Japanese compatriot Hiroki Ito - who has thus far not missed a minute of action this season - has had trouble training this week due to muscular issues. While the VfB gaffer expressed optimism that both would be available, he let it be known that he might trust the newly-acquired Dan-Axel Zagadou with a start.


The former Dortmund defender put in some relief time last week ahead of Ito on the left side of defense. Matarazzo, while emphasizing that he only trusted the newcomer to his team's training load for "more or less sixty minutes", there were words of praise for the 23-year-old Frenchmen's performance.

"With his field vision and left foot, he gave us a different dominance when he came in," Matarazzo noted, "He also has leadership qualities and the height to win aerial duels. That's why he's an option for the starting XI, of course."


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