Stuttgart, Hamburg face off in miserable times

Two heavyweights of the Bundesliga meet at the Mercedes-Benz-Arena on Saturday, but survival and not a place in Europe is at stake.


2007 Bundesliga winners Stuttgart host the only side never to have been relegated from the top flight of German football with both sides in the midst of a relegation battle.

Stuttgart slipped into the bottom two last weekend while Hamburg are only two points above them and would be sucked back into danger with a defeat.

The northern Germany side arrive in better form, though, with their fortunes looking up since Mirko Slomka took over from Bert van Marwijk as coach. Not that their recent results make any difference this weekend.

"They give us security, but we're remaining focused and are not going to relax," Slomka said at a press conference.

"I'm expecting to face a team who are fighting for their lives and who will not gift us anything, but we will hold our own in order to remain on the successful path we have found.

"We've got to become more stable away from home."

Stuttgart need to become more stable anywhere and the return of Vedad Ibisevic from a five-game suspension could help.

"Vedo is the type of player who scores goals, but he's missed five games," said coach Huub Stevens, who has not yet made up his mind whether or not the Bosnian will start.

"I'll just have to analyse and see who is the best choice for the starting XI."

Ibisevic is Stutttgart's top-scorer still this season with 10 goals from 20 games, and with Martin Harnik suspended, Stevens needs to find a new striker for a game his side need to win, like every game they play between now and May.

"We have nine finals to come," said Stevens. "No matter what happens in this one, we will then have eight finals."

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