17:00 BST, Sunday 29th October, Mercedes-Benz Arena (Stuttgart, Germany), BT Sport 2
These two sides from Germany’s south will be looking to make consecutive wins in all competitions when Stuttgart host Freiburg on Sunday. In the mid-week Pokal fixtures, both sides were able to do the job against Bundesliga 2 opponents.
Stuttgart’s last league result was a 1-0 defeat at RB Leipzig while Freiburg were unable to hold onto a one-goal advantage and were held to a draw with Hertha Berlin.
Last Time Out
Kaiserslautern 1-3 Stuttgart (DFB Pokal)
Stuttgart made the journey to the Fritz-Walter Stadion as they faced off against a Kaiserslautern side who sit bottom of Bundesliga 2. Though the gulf in quality was evident, it would be the less-fancied Kaiserslautern who would take the lead when Benjamin Pavard’s terrible header back was intercepted by Lukas Spalvis who comfortably scored past Ron-Robert Zieler.
But Stuttgart would level midway through the first half after Takuma Asano was fouled by Joel Abu Hanna. Daniel Ginczek put the resulting freekick in the bottom corner. Stuttgart then took the lead 66 minutes in when Chadrac Akolo finished Andreas Beck’s cross to beat Jan-Ole Sievers in the Kaiserslautern goal. The Swabians put the result beyond doubt five minutes later when Akolo turned provider for Simon Terodde, who rounded Sievers and found the back of the net.
Freiburg 3-1 Dynamo Dresden (DFB Pokal)
Freiburg looked to book their place in the Round of 16 when they welcomed Bundesliga 2. side Dynamo Dresden to the Schwarzwald-Stadion. In a tight clash, it was Dresden who took the lead when stand-in keeper Rafal Gikiewicz spilled the ball allowing Rico Benatelli to put the ball into the back of the net.
Falling behind in such a manner proved to be the wake-up call Freiburg needed and they kicked into gear, levelling the scores just two minutes later when Florian Niederlechner teed up Nils Petersen. Freiburg would then take the lead in the 61st minutes through an excellent curling free-kick from club captain Julian Schuster. After a horrendous error by Dresden keeper Marwin Schwabe, it was game set and match for Freiburg. The ball was picked up by Yoric Ravet who set up Janik Haberer for the simplest of finishes.
Holger Badstuber left the field of play 57 minutes into the mid-week game and a decision will be made after a late fitness test. If he is deemed unfit to play, Stuttgart will be stretched defensively. Dennis Aogo will miss out due to injury giving Emiliano Insúa his first start of the season. Josip Brekalo returns to the starting Xi with Takuma Asano dropping to the bench.
Freiburg will be without Philipp Lienhart who has been impressive since joining on loan from Real Madrid Castilla. Robin Koch will make his Bundesliga debut since joining from Kaiserslautern in place of Lienhart. Nils Petersen will drop to the bench with Janik Haberer getting the start.
Key Battle: Santiago Ascacibar (Stuttgart) vs Nicolas Höfler (Freiburg)
Santiago Ascacibar has been an impressive addition to the Stuttgart midfield and, with the injury to club captain Christian Gentner, the Argentine’s role has increased in recent months. So far this season, the 20-year-old has impressed, winning 44% of his tackles and completing 86% of his passes. Can Ascacibar assert himself into the encounter and help Stuttgart win on Matchday 10?
Ascacibar’s opponent in midfield will be Freiburg’s Nicolas Höfler. The 27-year-old native of Überlingen has been an important piece in Freiburg’s midfield jigsaw and, once again, he will play an important role on Sunday. This season, Höfler has won just 35% of tackles from his eight appearances but he has won 52% of aerial duels. He is utilised regularly in the build of play for Freiburg where he has completed 306 passes with a 87% completion rate.
Ginczek or Terodde?
Hannes Wolf has an interesting dilemma on Matchday 10: who to start up top in Stuttgart’s 3-4-3 formation this season. Simon Terodde was their go-to guy last season, with 25 Bundesliga goals which saw him win the Bundesliga 2 Torjägerkanone.
However, Terodde has found it tough this season with two goals in all competitions, both of which have come from off the bench. Daniel Ginczek has made only the five appearances in the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal with just the one goal to his name. However, with the 26-year-old finding the back of the net in Stuttgart’s win in Kaiserslautern, it will be interesting to see who gets the nod on Sunday.
The struggles are real
Freiburg have been diabolical on the defensive end and as a unit they have failed to adjust to a change in tactics. Last season saw Freiburg in a 4-4-2 formation but this season Christian Streich has reverted to a 5-4-1 formation to tighten up the leakages at the defensive end.
At this stage last season, Freiburg had conceded 12 goals in their opening nine matches. However, even playing 5 at the back has seen Freiburg worse defensively with 17 goals shipped this season. Can Freiburg pull it together in defence against Stuttgart?
Prediction: Stuttgart 1-0 Freiburg
A tight and cagey affair to end Matchday 10 will see both sides taking a relatively conservative approach. Stuttgart who have been a tough opponent to crack at home and Freiburg simply don’t have the attacking fire-power to break down the back five implemented by Hannes Wolf. One goal should be enough and it will most likely be Stuttgart who get the result.
Will Stuttgart continue their unbeaten record at home or will Freiburg secure their second win of the season? Let us know in the comments section below
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