Bruno Labbadia will be looking to begin his second spell as Stuttgart boss with a victory when his side face Mainz 05 on Saturday.
|Bruno Labbadia.||Photo: GEPA Pictures/Sven Sonntag|
Stuttgart experienced a difficult Hinrunde, with 14 points from 15 games leaving them in the relegation playoff place - one point above the automatic drop zone. After beginning their Bundesliga campaign with five draws and four defeats from their opening nine matches, the decision was made to sack Pellegrino Matarazzo.
Rather than making a swift appointment, interim boss Michael Wimmer oversaw the final six league games of 2022, winning all three of his home matches, although they failed to pick up a point in his three away games.
During the winter break, Stuttgart appointed Bruno Labbadia, who returns for a second spell as head coach, after previously managing the team between 2010 and 2013. Labbadia has been out of work since he was sacked as Hertha boss in January 2021, and he will be keen to continue Stuttgart’s home form in his first game in charge.
After winning their last three games at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, Stuttgart have the chance to claim four consecutive home victories for the first time since 2012, during Labbadia’s first spell in charge. The hosts are also aiming to end a 29-game run without a home clean sheet in the Bundesliga.
Dan-Axel Zagadou and Borna Sosa are expected to miss out through injury, while Laurin Ulrich is also unavailable due to illness.
Mainz began the season with three wins in five league games, but they only managed to pick up two victories in their next 10 Bundesliga matches, leaving them in 10th place at the conclusion of the Hinrunde.
After failing to win any of their final four matches of 2022, Mainz will be keen to end their poor form with a win on Saturday. While they have the fourth-best away record in the Bundesliga, they have lost four of their last five away matches in the topflight, including their last two.
They will be confident of troubling the scorers, though, after finding the net in seven of their eight away matches this season. The first goal could be particularly crucial, as Mainz have lost all four away games this season when they have conceded the opener.
Andreas Hanche-Olsen has joined the club in January, and he could be given his Mainz debut on Saturday. Meanwhile, the visitors will be unable to call upon the services of
Delano Burgzorg, Jonathan Burkardt and Marlon Mustapha due to injury issues. Stefan Bell, who is also struggling with injury, is suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards.