Grade: B -
Stuttgart seems to be on the road to recovery after some lean times. They struggled much of last year until righting the ship, and this season seems to be at least stable. This follows Stuttgart’s MO, some strong seasons followed by suckiness, then recovery.
Stuttgart pulled GK Sven Ulreich (23) from nowhere, and he has continued some outstanding play. They also loaned out Bernd Leno to Leverkusen, where he has done quite well. So I would expect VfB to be solid for several years at keeper, although most likely they will benefit from a nice sum as Bayer buys the option for Leno.
The defense has been pretty good. Usually, Stuttgart is outgunning their opponent, but this edition has been the opposite so far. Tight defense and so-so attack. The jewel in the crown is German international Serdar Tasci (24), one of many talents that have popped up recently in Germany. His play has been solid. New Mexican defender Francisco Rodriguez “Maza” has been OK, but I would have expected more from Dutch international Khalid Boulahrouz. Italian Christian Molinaro has been ho-hum also.
Midfield has been serviceable, with Danish DM William Kvist excellent. He’s probably been the best field player. Veteran Christian Gentner (26) and Zdravko Kuzmanovic have also been pretty good. Veteran Tamas Hajnal rounds out the regulars; he’s been only OK, expected more from him. There isn’t a lot of depth, but VfB should be satisfied with what they have now.
The attack has not been up to usual VfB standards. You probably won’t see Brazilian born German international Cacau anymore in the black-and-whites. His form at Stuttgart has been poor this season. He probably has some more goals in him, and he usually goes in streaks. Must be his “down” streak, since he’s only managed 3. Austrian Martin Harnik has been the best (6 goals), Russian Pavel Pogrebnyak largely a flop. Stuttgart tried to pull a “Kagawa” with Japanese striker Shinji Okazaki. He’s scored 3 goals, but there’s a reason you’ve never heard of him…he hasn’t shown that he’s worth paying attention to.
The coaching has been fine. Bruno Labbadia has steadied the ship, so now lets see if he can bring VfB back to the heights before they take a torpedo broadside, sink and he gets his ass fired, like many of his predecessors.