Stuttgart will be desperate for a victory when they welcome Dortmund to the Mercedes-Benz Arena on Saturday in order to ease their relegation woes.
23 April 2016
Venue: Mercedes-Benz Arena
TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Stuttgart 96 38 24 34
Dortmund 96 34 24 38
Stuttgart 1-3 Dortmund 09/02/16 (DFB-Pokal)
Stuttgart goalscorer: L Rupp (21')
Dortmund goalscorers: M Reus (5'), P Aubameyang (31'), H Mkhitaryan (89')
Players to watch:
Stuttgart's form of late has been less than impressive, but one player who has stood head and shoulders above the rest has been Filip Kostic. The Serbian winger has provided four goals and four assists since the turn of the year and has been one of few bright sparks in a torrid couple of months for the hosts.
Dortmund are set for some heavy rotation to the starting XI after playing in the DFB-Pokal semi-final against Hertha in midweek, however keep an eye on American teenager Christian Pulisic. The 17-year-old was left out of the cup game, but put in a Man of the Match performance in the 3-0 win over Hamburg last weekend.
Team form and manager quotes:
Stuttgart have only managed one win in their last nine league outings and they have dropped uncomfortably close to the relegation places. They are currently 15th in the Bundesliga standings, just two points ahead of Bremen in the playoff spot.
Head coach Jurgen Kramny has urged his squad to fight hard in their battle against relegation.
"We need points in the battle against relegation. We have to cause our opponents problems if we are to get a good result, so that is what we will try to do. We have a few ideas on how to achieve this," he said.
"We were in a difficult position when I took charge back in November and managed to get out of it. We now have to do the same again. We are optimistic heading into the final games and I am confident we can get enough points.
"We must fight hard, give our all and stick together."
Dortmund have looked dominant since being knocked out of the Europa League by Liverpool, having beaten both Hamburg and Hertha 3-0. However, they remain seven points behind Bayern at the top of the table and know that dropping points against Stuttgart will almost certainly guarantee their rivals win the title for the fourth season in a row.
Even if they do beat Stuttgart on Saturday, there is an air of inevitability about the Bavarians being crowned champions and Thomas Tuchel seems to have already cast his eyes towards next season.
When asked about the potential departure of key players in the off-season, the 43-year-old remained philosophical.
"Whatever will be, will be," he said. "We won't change it when we start philosophising about it. And we won't change it when we surrender because players might leave. The decision is down to the players, also in line with the club, since they are all under contract.
"I have already said in the past and I will say again that I am convinced we'll have a powerful squad next season."
To make matters even more challenging for the home side, they have a fairly long list of players set to miss the match through injury including Kevin Grosskreutz, Serey Die and Daniel Ginczek, while Timo Baumgartl and Lukas Rupp are both in doubt after coming down with the flu.
Tuchel could rest Ilkay Gundogan, who only returned recently from injury, after the playmaker went down in a heavy challenge late on against Hertha in midweek, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is also expected to be left out of the matchday squad after missing the trip to Berlin.