Labbadia urges Stuttgart to forget Mainz loss

Stuttgart coach Bruno Labbadia has warned his side not to let their opening-day defeat to Mainz affect them when they face his former club Bayer Leverkusen.

Football News: Bruno Labbadia Vfb Stuttgart

Stuttgart came into the season with high hopes after making several new signings this summer, but a 3-2 loss at Mainz has brought them down to earth and evoked memories of previous seasons in which they have made slow starts only to rally late on.

With that in mind, Labbadia wants his side to forget about the Mainz game and focus on picking up the first three points of the season against Leverkusen on Saturday.

"Fear is always a bad companion," he said.

"We are looking forward to our first game in the Mercedes-Benz Arena and we desperately want to start off with a positive result there.

"Leverkusen have made a great start to the season against Freiburg and they have ambitions of playing in the Champions League again so we know what to expect."

Stuttgart have ambitions of their own this season, which is why a second straight defeat would put a dent in their own European aspirations.

"We all have ambitious goals here in Stuttgart," he told

"But we are not the only ones who want to play in Europe.

"There are going to be eight to 10 clubs fighting for that. It's going to be an exciting race."

Labbadia is without his two regular central defenders Georg Niedermeier and Serdar Tasci, which is hardly the ideal preparation to face the Bundesliga's top goalscorer from last season, Stefan Kiessling.

The German forward opened his account for the new season last weekend against Freiburg and is a key figure in the Leverkusen team.

"If Stefan should ever pick up an injury, then we have a problem," coach Sami Hyypia told Kicker magazine.

His club is therefore on the lookout for a reliable replacement to help them confront all three competitions they are in this season, with the Champions League and DFB-Pokal in addition to the Bundesliga.

"Of course it's important we look for options and whether we can get another good striker," added Hyypia.

"If we find ourselves behind in the closing stages of a game, it would be good to have two good options up front to put a bit more pressure on."

Fortunately for Hyypia and Leverkusen, Kiessling is fit at present, especially after being overlooked once again by Germany coach Joachim Low for the midweek friendly against Paraguay.

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