Stuttgart fact file
Thursday, 30. January 2020, 14:00 Uhr
You wait ages for the league to kick off again, and then two games come along at once! After the 3-0 reverse at Fürth on Tuesday evening, the Boys in Brown are back in action on Saturday when they play host to VfB Stuttgart, who resumed with a 3-0 home win against Heidenheim last night. As usual, we've taken a closer look at our forthcoming opponents.
New man at the helm
Just before the turn of the year, Stuttgart decided to dismiss head coach Tim Walther, who they had appointed from Holstein Kiel in summer, and replace him with Hoffenheim assistant coach Pellegrino Matarazzo. As a player, Matarazzo made four appearances against St. Pauli in the colours of Preussen Münster and Wattenscheid 09 (one win, one draw, two defeats). He began his coaching career in an assistant role for FC Nürnberg's second team in 2010 before taking charge of the club's Under-17s and then the Under-19s. Im summer 2017, Matarazzo moved to Hoffenheim Under-17s and was subsequently promoted to the senior coaching staff by Julian Nagelsmann.
Ball magnet Stenzel
No other side has kept possession of the ball better than Stuttgart, who are the only team to have made more than 10,000 passes in the first 19 games. VfB workhorse Pascal Stenzel (just 32 minutes missed so far) leads the ranking of players with the most touches by quite some distance. The right-back had the ball at his feet 86 times against Heidenheim to take his total for the season to 2,128. That puts him more than 600 touches in front of the man in second place, HSV's Tim Leibold (1,459 touches).
In early August, Stuttgart signed centre-back Nathaniel Phillips on loan from Liverpool Under-23s. The defender made nine league appearances for the Swabians in the first half of the season and caught the eye with his strength in the tackle, coming out on top in 67.4 per cent of his duels. Nürnberg's Georg Margreitter (70.33 per cent) is the only player to win more. Phillips was recalled to Liverpool during the winter break and made his debut for Jürgen Klopp's side in the FA Cup against Everton. A fortnight later, however, he rejoined Stuttgart for a second loan spell until the end of the season.
The Swabians have been extremely trigger-happy this season – no other team has gone for goal more often. Stuttgart have registered 333 attempts on goal in their 19 games so far, almost 18 per outing, so Robin Himmelmann and Co. will have their work cut out. In terms of efficiency, however, Stuttgart rank just 13th, with only one attempt in ten finding the opposition net.
Hot off the bench
A last-minute goal from substitute Nicólas González condemned the Boys in Brown to a 2-1 defeat in the reverse fixture at Stuttgart in mid-August. It wasn't to be the forward's only strike, as González has scored twice more coming off the bench. Silas Wamangituka has also found the net three times after entering the fray, while Hamadi Al Ghaddioui has two substitute goals to his name. In the defeat of Heidenheim, Mario Gomez notched Stuttgart's ninth goal off the bench to take them one ahead of Frank Schmidt's side (8) in this category.