Stevens: Performance was a joke

Around 55,000 fans filled the Mercedes-Benz-Arena in hope rather than expectation that the Swabians would be able to lift themselves away from the relegation zone with a win.

Instead, they saw a performance which summed up another disappointing first half of the season.

“I’m going to start with the only positive and that is to wish you all a merry Christmas,” said Stevens at the post-match press conference.

“The way we played was a joke. There are a few players here who have not realised yet that we are in a relegation battle.

“Maybe I’m going to have to get tougher with them. We wanted to put on a show, but the first thing you need is to be aggressive.

“We weren’t and I cannot accept that. It’s no coincidence we’re as low as we are in the table.”

Stuttgart have the worst record of all 18 Bundesliga clubs at home this season with just one win and only four goals scored – a new club record low.

They will drop into the bottom three for the winter break if Freiburg win their game in hand against Hannover on Sunday.