Preview: Stuttgart vs. Hamburger SV - prediction, team news

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Preview: Stuttgart vs. Hamburger SV - prediction, team news

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Bundesliga Relegation Playoff first-leg clash between Stuttgart and Hamburger SV, including predictions, team news

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Bundesliga Relegation Playoff first-leg clash between Stuttgart and Hamburger SV, including predictions, team news

Stuttgart and Hamburger SV lock horns at the Mercedes-Benz Arena for the first leg of the Bundesliga relegation playoff on Thursday night.

While the hosts are seeking to maintain their top-flight status for next season, the visitors are hoping to return to Germany's top tier for the first time in five years.

Match preview

VfB Stuttgart coach Sebastian Hoeness on April 5, 2023© Reuters

Stuttgart's three-year stay in the Bundesliga remains at risk of coming to an end despite picking up five points in their final three games of the regular season.

A 1-1 home draw with Bayer Leverkusen was followed by a thumping 4-1 away victory over Mainz 05 in their penultimate fixture of the campaign, and Sebastian Hoeness's side knew that another victory in their final match against relegation rivals Hoffenheim would guarantee their survival.

However, Stuttgart were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw on home soil last weekend, with Ihlas Bebou's 75th-minute opener cancelled out just five minutes later by substitute Tiago Tomas, and they ended the campaign occupying 16th place – the relegation playoff position – finishing just one point adrift of safety.

Hoeness arrived at Stuttgart in early April with the club sitting rock bottom of the Bundesliga, but he has given Die Roten a fighting chance of survival after leading them to three wins and four draws in nine matches.

History favours the Bundesliga side in the relegation playoffs, as the top-tier club have retained their status in 18 of the last 24 seasons, which bodes well for Stuttgart ahead of Thursday's first leg.

Hamburger SV players celebrate after the match on April 21, 2023 © Reuters

Hamburg narrowly missed out on automatic promotion from 2.Bundesliga and have been consigned to the playoffs for a second successive year despite winning 1-0 away against Sandhausen last weekend.

On a dramatic final day in the second tier, Hamburger supporters were on the pitch celebrating at full time after learning that Heidenheim were trailing 2-1 heading into stoppage time in their final match against Jahn Regensburg.

However, Heidenheim remarkably scored twice in added time, including a 99th-minute winner, to come from behind and snatch all three points, jumping from third to first to clinch the title and automatic promotion with virtually the final kick of their season.

Tim Walter is now tasked with attempting to lift his understandably deflated Hamburger side as they seek to avoid a repeat of last season's playoff defeat to Hertha Berlin, losing 3-0 on aggregate.

Hamburger finished the regular 2.Bundesliga season with the best away record, accumulating 30 points from their 17 matches on the road, although they head into Thursday's first leg having lost nine of the last 13 visits to Stuttgart, including a 3-2 defeat in May 2020 in which they let a two-goal first-half lead slip.

Stuttgart form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • D

Hamburger SV form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W

Team News

VfB Stuttgart players huddle before the match on March 4, 2023© Reuters

Stuttgart are set to be without defender Dan-Axel Zagadou as he continues to recover from a head injury, while forward Thomas Kastanaras remains out with a broken foot.

Borna Sosa recovered from illness to start and play the full 90 minutes last weekend, and the creative Croatia international, who has provided seven assists so far this season, is set to continue at left wing-back, with Josha Vagnoman set to operate on the opposite flank.

Top scorer Serhou Guirassy, who has found the net four times in his last six games, is expected to lead the line, with support provided in attack by Silas Katompa Mvumpa and Chris Fuhrich.

As for Hamburger, left-back Noah Katterbach remains sidelined with ankle ligament damage, while defender Mario Vuskovic is serving a two-year ban from football for doping.

However, the visitors are able to welcome back Bakery Jatta and Ludovit Reis from one-match suspensions, and Reis could return to the first XI at the expense of either Sonny Kittel or Jean-Luc Dompe, the latter of whom scored the only goal in last weekend's win over Sandhausen, though.

Stuttgart possible starting lineup:
Bredlow; Mavropanos, Anton, Ito; Vagnoman, Karazor, Endo, Sosa; Mvumpa, Fuhrich; Guirassy

Hamburger SV possible starting lineup:
Fernandes; Heyer, David, Schonlau, Muheim; Reis, Meffert, Benes; Konigsorffer, Glatzel, Dompe

SM words green background

We say: Stuttgart 2-1 Hamburger SV

A closely-fought contest between two giants of German football, who are both three-time Bundesliga winners, is set to take place on Thursday, although Stuttgart will be regarded as slight favourites.

As the two teams look to quickly brush aside the disappointment of failing to meet their desired targets last weekend, we believe that the hosts will come out on top to gain a first-leg advantage.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:curl

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