Stuttgart vs. Bremen preview:
Die Schwaben aiming to end winless league run
By Ben Sully @SullyBen
After picking up two points from their last four league games, Stuttgart will be aiming to end their winless run in the Bundesliga when they face Werder Bremen on Sunday.
|Bruno Labbadia.||Photo: GEPA Pictures/Sven Sonntag|
Although Bruno Labbadia is yet to win a league game since returning to the Stuttgart dugout, he oversaw the first competitive victory of his second spell in charge on Tuesday.
Stuttgart looked to be heading to defeat in their DFB-Pokal tie with second-tier side Paderborn, who led for the majority of the contest following Konstantinos Mavropanos's third-minute own goal. Labbadia's side managed to level the game in the 86th minute thanks to a strike from debutant Gil Dias, and there was still time for Sehrou Guirassy to produce a dramatic winner in the fifth of stoppage time, sending Stuttgart through to the quarter-finals.
While Die Schwaben may be enjoying a cup run, they are currently winless in four league games. As a result of Bochum's commanding 5-2 win over Hoffenheim on Saturday, Stuttgart slipped into the relegation playoff spot, but they will move out of the bottom three if they can beat Bremen on Sunday.
The hosts are currently unbeaten in four home league games, and they can also draw inspiration from the fact that they have won their last three Bundesliga home matches against Bremen.
Labbadia has indicated that Borna Sosa and Dan-Axel Zagadou could feature in the matchday squad after returning to training following a spell on the sidelines. However, Stuttgart are still unable to call upon the services of Silas and Tiago Tomas.
After losing four consecutive Bundesliga games, Bremen returned to winning ways against Wolfsburg last weekend. Niclas Füllkrug scored a brace, which included a first half penalty, and although Kevin Paredes pulled a goal back for Wolfsburg in the 90th minute, Bremen held firm to claim a narrow 2-1 win.
Ole Werner's currently sit in 10th place with a respectable 24 points to their name after 18 matches, and they will move into the top half of the table if they can secure their first Bundesliga away victory over Stuttgart since February 2013.
However, their recent away form suggests that claiming all three points may prove to be a difficult task. Bremen have lost three consecutive away league games, and in their last two away matches, they have been hammered 6-1 by Bayern Munich and thrashed 7-1 by Koln.
Bremen will be aiming to rediscover the form that saw them begin the campaign with a five-game unbeaten away run in the Bundesliga, which included three victories.
The visitors are expected to be without Jean-Manuel Mbom, Romano Schmid and Felix Agu due to injury issues. Meanwhile, Mitchell Weiser will serve a one-match suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards.