Germany: Bundesliga
2 - 1
(0 - 1)
V. Grifo (60), V. Grifo (84)
C. Führich (30)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Labbadia stresses finishing drills are prioritized in training: "We're not standing around picking our noses."

VfB Stuttgart trainer Bruno Labbadia obviously couldn't avoid the elephantine topic of his team's woeful finishing rate at his Friday presser. 
The topic of the inability of VfB Stuttgart's young and inexperienced attackers proving horribly inept at finishing in front of goal isn't a new one. Under previous VfB trainer Pellegrino Matarazzo, the issue led to the team barely escaping relegation last season. Current gaffer Bruno Labbadia has inherited this problem.

The statistics are nothing short of abysmal. The Swabians have converted only 22 percent of their chances from close range this season. Only last-placed FC Schalke 04 - at 17.3 percent - are worse. Prospects for the squad in the relegation race are truly looking bleak, particularly after the loss of the one experienced striker Labbadia had to call upon for several weeks.

In his final pre-match-presser ahead of this weekend's clash with Freiburg, Labbadia again had to call for patience for those tasked with netting goals on his squad. The 57-year-old emphasized that he and his coaching staff were actively working to address the problem every day in training.

Labbadia offered up some details. There are specific exercises geared at improving decision-making skills in front of goal. Scrimmages are often interrupted in order to personally discuss the number of touches specific strikers are taking before they opt to finish.

"We work with the offense in every training session," Labbadia promised, "We're working extremely hard to be even more goal-oriented. We play through many types of scenarios that involve making quick decisions, then train automatisms that we use to give the players potential solutions. The more you train, the more it is in your head, the more you get into these processes."

Once inexperienced strikers such as Luca Pfeiffer and Juan Jose Perea (not to mention the even greener likes of Alou Kuol and Thomas Kastaranas) have worked better finishing skills into their muscle memory, Labbadia assured members of the assembled press corps that improvement would come. The club's designated "Feuerwehrmann" tasked with helping Stuttgart avoid the drop still had to call for patience.

""Everyone thinks that you can do it in a few weeks. But it doesn't happen overnight," Labbadia noted, "I know that everyone is impatient and I'm usually the most impatient of them all. We work on it every day. We're not standing around picking our noses."

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