VfL Wolfsburg vs. VfB Stuttgart August 7, 2009, 4:30 PM ET
by Jason Green of Predictem.com
On Friday night the Bundesliga season begins as defending champion Wolfsburg hosts Stuttgart at Volkswagen Arena. Last season Wolfsburg was a surprising winner of the Bundesliga while Stuttgart finished 3rd. Wolfsburg has a new head coach in Armin Veh as he looks to repeat on last year’s success. The big news in the off-season for Wolfsburg is not the players they added, but rather the ones they kept with the legit strikers of Grafite and Edin Dzeko still in the fold. Dzeko was close to joining AC Milan this summer and he was one of the main reasons Wolfsburg was the Bundesliga champion last season.
Last season Wolfsburg only had to concentrate on the Bundesliga season, but this year they will be playing in the Champions League and that may be a distraction.
BET ON BUNDESLIGA GAMES USING YOUR CREDIT CARD TO DEPOSIT AT INTERTOPS
Stuttgart began last season in the Bundesliga poorly and they brought in a new, as well as unproven, head coach in Markus Babbel. He turned their season around and Stuttgart had a great 2nd half and they even had a chance, albeit a slight one, to win the title heading into the last match. In the off-season they lost Mario Gomez, which hurt, and after losing out on Klaas-Jan Huntelaar they did sign Zenit striker Pavel Pogrebnyak for 10 million and Aliaksandr Hleb returns to the club on loan from Barcelona. With the players they have Stuttgart has high expectations their first game will not be easy against the defending champs.
At a pre-match press conference for this match Markus Babbel stated, “The game against Wolfsburg is a tough but very attractive task. We know just how strong the German champions are at home but we are well prepared. We will need to be disciplined and work hard to keep pressure on the ball. Against a footballing side as strong as VfL, we must make our mark.”
Wolfsburg is the home favorite in this match posted at 2.00 with Stuttgart at 3.65 and a draw at 3.60.
Wolfsburg Recent Form:
7/31/2009 Wehen Wiesbaden 1-4 Wolfsburg (DFB Pokal)
7/26/2009 Wolfsburg 3-1 Real Mallorca (Friendly)
7/24/2009 Wolfsburg 1-0 FC Burgas (Friendly)
7/20/2009 Wolfsburg 1-2 Werder Bremen (VW Super Cup)
7/15/2009 SV Calberlah 0-15 Wolfsburg (Friendly)
Stuttgart Recent Form:
8/1/2009 Sonnenhof Grossaspach 1-4 Stuttgart (DFB Pokal)
7/25/2009 SpVgg Greuther Furth 0-5 Stuttgart (Friendly)
7/21/2009 Stuttgart 2-0 Birmingham City (Friendly)
7/19/2009 Hamburg 3-0 Stuttgart (T-Home Cup)
7/15/2009 Schalke 0-1 Stuttgart (T-Home Cup)
Wolfsburg is relatively healthy for this match, but Thomas Kahlenberg is out with an injury and newly signed Obafemi Martins will probably be on the bench.
Stuttgart will miss Pavel Pogrebnyak and Alex Helb, who are both not match fit. Both Khalid Boulahrouz and Roberto Hilbert are out for this match due to injury.
Stuttgart has to keep a man on Dzeko, who is the main threat for Wolfsburg and scored in their last match. He and Grafite are a dynamic duo that, if left open, has a knack for finding each other around the opponent’s net.
Since Pavel Pogrebnyak will not play in this match Stuttgart’s Serdar Tasci has to be the anchor of their defense. He is one of the best defenders in the Bundesliga and he will be tested with Wolfsburg and their explosive offense.
Early in the match both clubs may play tentatively and each has to be careful of a counter attack.
For Stuttgart Thomas Hitzlsperger is the main man in the middle of the pitch, as his passing and quick shooting are a vital part to the tactics of the club.
Zvjezdan Misimovic and captain Josue are both solid midfielders for Wolfsburg and they will have to control the tempo of this match and set up their strong strikers.
The crowd will be a major factor in this game, as there is expected to be a full house at Volkswagen Arena on Friday night.
Jason’s Pick: This game should be pretty even, but since Wolfsburg is at home and Stuttgart will be without two of their best players I see the home team winning a close game by a score of 2-1. Stuttgart will be happy just to take 1 point in this game, but the defending champions will be victorious in the opening of the Bundesliga season.