Stuttgart carry a healthy 3-0 lead into the second leg of their Bundesliga relegation play-off showdown with Hamburg on Monday night.
The top-flight outfit made light work of the second-tier side in the first leg, leaving Hamburg with a mountain to climb at Volksparkstadion.
Former Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos put Stuttgart ahead inside the first minute on Thursday, with Josha Vagnoman and Serhou Guirassy scoring early in the second half. To make matters worse for Hamburg, substitute Anssi Suhonen was sent off just nine minutes after coming on.After missing out on automatic promotion by a solitary point, Hamburg would have been eager to make a statement in the first leg. However, Tim Walter’s men managed just two attempts on target, while Stuttgart peppered the visitors’ goal with 18 shots.
The Red Shorts enjoyed a strong end to the regular season, winning each of their final three games. They also suffered two defeats in 10 outings during the run-in, but they will need to produce their best performance of the season in order to overturn Stuttgart’s hefty advantage.
There is no hiding the fact that Stuttgart have endured a difficult campaign, winning only seven of their 34 Bundesliga encounters. That said, Sebastian Hoeness’ men have upped their game in recent weeks.After posting a four-match unbeaten streak in April, the Reds suffered a narrow defeat to Hertha Berlin before finishing the regular season with a run of one win and two draws, meaning they have lost just one of their previous nine matches.
It is also worth noting that Stuttgart have improved on the road, winning two and drawing one of their last four away games after failing to win any of their first 13 away league outings this term.
Thanks to Thursday’s victory, Stuttgart have now won each of their last three meetings with Hamburg, scoring three goals on every occasion. The first-leg result also means that Hamburg have managed to win only one of their previous six games against the Reds.
If Hamburg are to overcome Stuttgart, they will need Robert Glatzel to stand up and deliver in the second leg, as the former Cardiff City forward has been the Red Shorts’ standout performer this term, notching 19 goals and eight assists.
However, Tim Walter won’t be able to call upon the injured quartet of Andras Nemeth (ankle), Noah Katterbach (ACL), Omar Mageed (ligament) and Laszlo Benez (muscle), as well as the suspended Anssi Suhonen.On the flip side, Stuttgart will be without Fabian Bredlow (knee) and Thomas Kastanaras (ankle) for the second leg. The Reds’ key player is Serhou Guirassy, who took his tally for the season to 14 goals after scoring on Thursday.
Fans of German football in the UK can watch the second leg on Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Ultra HDR.
Expert Insight: Given what happened in the first leg, Hamburg have no choice but to throw everything at Stuttgart on Monday. The second-tier side will likely close the deficit, but Stuttgart are expected to flex their top-flight muscles and complete the job at Volksparkstadion.