By last Saturday at the latest, VfB Stuttgart had really made their mark in the Bundesliga. After an impressive, albeit pointless, performance in the opening fixture against SC Freiburg (2-3), the Swabians secured their first points since returning to the top-flight at FSV Mainz 05 – and in style too! 4-1 to VfB in the end in spite of going behind early on. A genuine statement from the newly promoted club. At the same time: The team from the capital of Baden-Württemberg are not a classic newly promoted side. Despite being relegated twice in the last four years, the 2007 champions of Germany are an inherent part of the Bundesliga and want to confirm that status in the future. “We feel we’ve arrived in the league with that win,” declared head coach Pellegrino Matarazzo, who took over the helm at VfB at the turn of the year. “That gives us stability and confidence. If we perform to our ability then we will be in a position to cause problems for lots of teams.”
There was slightly bad news for VfB at the end of the game in Mainz: Defender Pascal Stenzel was shown a second yellow card in added time and is now suspended for the match against Bayer 04. The focus of the Swabians is now on Konstantinos Mavropanos: The Greek central defender, on loan from Arsenal and at FC Nürnberg for the second half of the last second division, joined VfB in the summer but has yet to play for Stuttgart due to a groin problem. Hope rests on the powerful defender making his debut against Werkself. If Mavropanos is not available then the recently injured Atakan Karazor or Marcin Kaminski may fill the final place in the back three alongside Marc-Oliver Kempf and new signing Waldemar Anton.
Coach Matarazzo is missing two of his most dangerous strikers up front: For loan returnee Erik Thommy, the game against Bayer 04 comes too early after a broken elbow and forward Nicolás González is ruled out with a muscle injury. The latter’s absence is a particular problem as the Argentinian was by far the top scorer for VfB in last season’s second division campaign with 14 goals.
Even without González and Thommy, the VfB attack has been firing on all cylinders to date. Only record champions Bayern plus league leaders Hoffenheim have scored more goals than Stuttgart (six) on the first two matchdays – and that despite a rather poor conversion rate on the first matchday against Freiburg. The Swabians can count on a front line made up of players with different qualities that have certainly been extended: the lightning performances of the tricky Silas Wamangituka, the clever passes from former Leverkusen player Gonzalo Castro, long-range shots and set-pieces from playmaker Daniel Didavi, the physical presence and heading ability of the two-metre tall central striker Kalajdzic plus the carefree approach of the two youngsters Mateo Klimowicz and Roberto Massimo. In addition, Matarazzo has been able to rely to a great extent on his promotion-winning team – and they work together brilliantly. “We’re a great group and the team spirit is fantastic,” Didavi said recently.
VfB cannot be looking to come from behind every week. Against Freiburg, the three-goal deficit proved to be too much in the end to get a result despite a fantastic final effort late on. And Stuttgart also went behind against Mainz. After the Freiburg game, Matarazzo sounded a warning: “We were rather naive in defence. We weren’t alert enough.” And then: The first attack for Mainz and it goes in. Again it was relatively simple. In the coming weeks, Stuttgart have to be alert in defence, above all – particularly in the opening stages.
There is no doubt that VfB definitely have the quality to do well in the league. Above all, staying up so the club can again secure a foothold in the top flight. If Thommy and González can raise the quality of the attack after their return from injury and the defence be more solid with Mavropanos providing stability, then nothing should stand in the way of that target.
Monster Energy has been a partner in the Sponsors Club at Bayer 04 Leverkusen since the start of the 2023/24 season. Monster Energy has shown their products at Werkself home games on the LED advertising hoardings at the BayArena. Monster Energy activated the next stage of the partnership with the current Bundesliga league leaders for Bayer 04’s home game against Union Berlin in the middle of November. Monster Energy will continue to present themselves as a reliable and ambitious partner to Leverkusen fans through similar promotional events as at the game against Union Berlin.Show more
Bayer 04 involvement with the ‘Kältegang Leverkusen’ project continues this winter. The current Bundesliga league leaders and their fans again presented financial and in-kind donations to the homeless charity at home game against Borussia Dortmund (1-1).Show more
The Werkself remain unbeaten after the 1-1 draw with Borussia Dortmund on Bundesliga Matchday 13. The one-sided game demanded a lot of strength of nerve and competitive spirit from Xabi Alonso's team. In the end, Victor Boniface rewarded the relentless attacking efforts of the league leaders against passive but efficient visitors. The Werkself review.Show more
Bayer 04 were held to a 1-1 draw by Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 13 in the Bundesliga. Julian Ryerson had put the visitors in front at a sold-out BayArena after only five minutes. Leverkusen would go on to dominate proceedings and finally get their deserved equaliser through Victor Boniface in the 79th minute. It’s a result that extends the Werkself’s unbeaten run in all competitions this season to 20 matches.Show more
For the 17th time, Bayer 04 Sportförderung gGmbH has awarded the Volunteers Award for outstanding commitment to football in Leverkusen and the surrounding region. The three outstanding clubs in 2023 are BSV Roleber 1919, TuS 05 Oberpleis and SV 1924 Glehn. They will each receive prize money of €5,000.Show more