VfB Stuttgart is in crisis. The new players are seeking their place in the system, the old their form. This raises questions about coach Tayfun Korkut – and about the club’s transfer policy.
The Simpsons are known for satirising reality in a relentless way. In a famous scene, the creators take on football: During a match, the defenders pass the ball to each other until the annoyed audience stormed the pitch.
VfB Stuttgart turned this persiflage into reality at the 0:2 against RB Leipzig. VfB-Verteidiger matched VfB-Verteidiger, who matched the goalkeeper, who matched the defender again. VfB played 28 passes in a row in the 20th minute, without ever leaving their own half. After more than a minute, this cross pass orgy ended with a long blow from six-man Dennis Aogo. The ball landed in the side out.
This scene symbolizes the crisis at VfB Stuttgart. In the last second half of the season, under coach Tayfun Korkut, they stormed to the top of the table with breathtakingly fast football. Now they are playing football, which the Simpsons made fun of twenty years ago.
Actually, Korkut’s idea of a game looks different. Conquering the ball in midfield, fitting directly into the top: That was Stuttgart’s formula for success in the second half of the season. The double six in the 4-4-2 system should win the ball. After the conquest of the ball, it should go fast: The outside strikers move into the middle, they are supposed to serve striker Mario Gómez. The 78-times national player has his strengths in counterattacking and as a rough-and-tumble in the penalty area.
Exactly this idea does not work this season. Stuttgart’s previous opponents focused themselves on the counterattack and overplayed the midfield with long balls. Against Mainz (0:1), Freiburg (3:3) and Düsseldorf (0:0) Stuttgart did not find their own game. Even RB Leipzig withdrew behind the centre line in their 2-0 win and left Stuttgart to take the ball.
Dennis Aogo Honours
- FIFA World Cup Third Place: 2010
- UEFA European Under-21 Championship: 2009
- Silbernes Lorbeerblatt: 2010
Stuttgart’s weak switching game is not only related to the opponents. The SPIX shows how much Stuttgart’s key players are lagging behind their form. Dennis Aogo? Conquers hardly any balls in central midfield. Preparer Thommy? Didn’t shoot a single goal against Leipzig and only managed four passes in the opposing half. Gómez? Came in three of five season games on a SPIX under 10.
Korkuts problem: There are no alternatives, neither tactical nor personnel. Against Leipzig he distanced himself from the usual 4-4-2 system, the VfB played from a diamond with Thommy as ten behind two points. Offensively, the attackers lacked any connection to the game, as the 28 passes in their own half impressively prove.
Defensively Stuttgart revealed gaps in the new system on the wings. Korkuts system change washed two entries into the starting eleven. But neither right-back Pablo Maffeo nor left-back Borna Sosa convinced. A prominent newcomer was not even used: Gonzalo Castro. Korkut tested him in the first games both in the center and on the wing. On no position he convinced.
The poor integration of the newcomers does not only cast a spotlight on the coach. Sports director Michael Reschke has also been criticised for his transfer policy. In fact, the team lacks a strong six player to lead the build-up. Aogo was overburdened with this role against Leipzig. The poisonous Argentinian Santiago Ascacíbar convinces with his aggressiveness in the game against the ball, but not in the game structure. So VfB created only moments of Simpsonesque comedy from the game structure, but not goal danger.
Stuttgart makes it easy for the opponents. You know: We can leave Stuttgart to the ball, the VfB plays anyway only harmless cross passes. The next opponent is Werder Bremen Will Bremen’s Korkut, who started the season with a surprisingly strong start, do the favours of opening rooms for counterattacks? Unlikely. It’s quite possible that Stuttgart will again set new records: for most passes without gaining space. Kozmo Casino is one of the newest online casino gaming site.