14:30 (BST); Saturday 16th September; Mercedes-Benz Arena (Stuttgart, Germany)
Hosts Stuttgart have had an up and down beginning to their campaign as they welcome the visit of Wolfsburg to the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Stuttgart have only played once at home with success coming in the form of a 1-0 victory over Mainz, but on their travels, they have succumbed to defeat which has seen them ship five goals in three fixtures.
Wolfsburg have been on a slight rise. Despite a defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the opening week of the season Andries Jonker’s side took an excellent away win at Frankfurt before drawing with Hannover.
Two teams looking for their second win of the season; who will show the desire to take all three points in Week 4?
Last Time Out
Schalke 3-1 Stuttgart
Stuttgart were coming off an excellent win over Mainz last time out as they made the journey to Gelsenkirchen to end Week 3.
Hannes Wolf’s side started poorly and conceded a penalty after two minutes when Orel Mangala fouled Amine Harit. Nabil Bentaleb stepped up to slide his spot-kick past Ron-Robert Zieler.
After conceding, Stuttgart owned the first half and before halftime, they were rewarded when Josip Brekalo’s cross was finished off by Chadrac Akolo for his first Bundesliga goal.
However, Stuttgart were caught napping after halftime as Schalke raced away. After 46 minutes, Bastian Oczipka’s free-kick was headed home by an unmarked Naldo and just moments later, Harit assisted Guido Burgstaller to make it 3-1 in just over a minute.
Stuttgart only have themselves to blame as they threw away the points against Schalke.
Wolfsburg 1-1 Hannover
After an away win against Eintracht Frankfurt after the international break, Wolfsburg were looking for their first home win as they hosted high flying Hannover to the Volkswagen Arena.
In a cagey first half that yielded no chances, it wasn’t until the second half that the deadlock was broken.
After 52 minutes, Daniel Didavi opened the scoring as his free-kick went through the wall and curled away from keeper Philipp Tschauner. It’s Didavi’s second of the season and he is Wolfsburg’s only goal scorer.
However, Wolfsburg were undone 15 minutes before time as they failed to clear in defence and an inventive shot by Harnik trickled through the legs of Koen Casteels.
Stuttgart are still set to be without Holger Badstuber due to injury and could be without Dennis Aogo. If the German is fit, expect him in the starting line-up, and Ailton will be on standby if required.
There will be a change in midfield with Orel Mangala dropping to the bench with Sergio Ascacibar partnering up with Christian Gentner.
A defence-first approach has been identified as the way to go for Andries Jonker as he looks for defensive stability from his Wolfsburg side.
For the second week in a row, Wolfsburg played five at the back and we shall see that again against Stuttgart. The missing piece comes with an injury to Mario Gomez who will be out for several weeks.
The goal scoring responsibilities fall on Divock Origi, therefore, who will look to open his Bundesliga account in Stuttgart.
Key Battle: Simon Terodde vs Divock Origi
Simon Terodde was a goal-scoring machine in 2. Bundesliga where he made a name for himself as a perennial force, winning the Torjägerkanone twice in a row with VfL Bochum and last season with Stuttgart.
However, Terodde is yet to get off the mark this season as he has drawn a blank in his opening three matches.
The striker should’ve opened his account from the spot against Mainz in Week 2, but he squandered his chance as his shot struck the post. So far, Terodde has taken eight shots on goal with an accuracy of 29%.
Divock Origi is set to make his second start in the Bundesliga in Week 4 as he looks to adjust to life in Germany’s top flight.
The 22-year-old Belgian made his way from Liverpool on loan as he seeks regular first-team action and with the injury to Mario Gomez, Origi will be the main for Wolfsburg over the coming weeks.
Playing in the system Andries Jonker is using may be difficult for Origi, who isn’t noted for being able to hold up possession unless he has support.
Can either striker break their duck or will the pair go another week without a goal?
The Gomez effect
It will be a difficult few weeks for Wolfsburg without Mario Gomez leading the line. Gomez’s goals were crucial last season and in games where he scored, Wolfsburg won 53% of their fixtures.
With Gomez out, the load will fall on loan signing Divock Origi who is adjusting to life in the Bundesliga.
Can the striker from Liverpool find his feet or will Wolfsburg struggle without their captain on the pitch?
Hitting the target
Stuttgart have had plenty of opportunities to find the back of the net this season, but their inability to convert those chances into goals has hurt Hannes Wolf’s side immensely.
From their opening three games, Stuttgart have scored only twice with goals to Holger Badstuber and Chadrac Akolo from their 39 attempts on goal.
The real issue has been hitting the target with only 26% of their shots finding the target. Only Bayer Leverkusen are worse in front of goal this season.
For a club that has just returned to the Bundesliga, Stuttgart need a better return on their efforts on goal.
PREDICTION: Stuttgart 2-0 Wolfsburg
Stuttgart will look to show their supporters they mean business after a poor minute cost them the points against Schalke.
I feel the loss of Mario Gomez will be huge for Wolfsburg and I don’t believe an attack led by Divock Origi will scare the Stuttgart back three.
It will be a tough day at the office for Wolfsburg as Stuttgart secure a much-needed three points at home.
Can Stuttgart return to winning ways at home or will Wolfsburg take the points back to the north? Let us know in the comments section below.
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