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Barça’s preseason continues on Saturday at 6.00pm CEST against VfB Stuttgart. Let’s take a closer look at the German club that the blaugrana are facing for the first time in over a decade.
Where are they from?
Stuttgart is the capital and largest city of the state of Baden-Württemberg in the far southwest of Germany, about an hour from the Black Forest. The city was really named the ‘least stressful in the world’, partly because of the strong local economy (local companies include Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Bosch) and partly because it is so spacious, with as many parks and gardens as there are buildings.
Verein für Bewegungsspiele Stuttgart were founded in 1893, originally by rugby-playing schoolboys and grew to become one of the strongest teams in the Oberliga Süd, the southernmost of the five regional German leagues. They were founder members of the national Bundesliga when it was created in 1963 and until recently had only ever been relegated once (in 1975).
They have been German champions on three occasions (1984, 1992 and 2007) and have also won the cup three times. But the last few years have been the club’s poorest in modern times, with two relegations (2016 and 2019) although they managed to bounce straight back both times.
Stuttgart have reached two European finals, but lost them both. In 1989 they lost to Napoli in the UEFA Cup Final, and in 1998 Chelsea beat them in the Cup Winners’ Cup Final.
For commercial reasons, the ground has been known as the Mercedes-Benz Arena since 2008, although the best recognised of its many former names is the Neckarstadion, after the local river. Football has been played here since 1897, although there was no stadium as such until 1933. Following the latest redevelopment in 2011, its capacity is 60,441.
Did you know?
Like Barça, Stuttgart is a multi-sports club with teams competing in fistball, field hockey, track and field and table tennis.
In recent years, Stuttgart’s biggest rivalry is with Karlsruher SC, although the club also has a traditional dislike for Bayern Munich, who have a habit of enticing away their best players.
This is Stuttgart’s sixth preseason friendly. They are currently unbeaten, including a 1-1 draw with Liverpool last week.
Head to head
Barça’s first ever games against German opposition were way back in 1914, just weeks before the outbreak of World War I against the visiting Stuttgarter Kickers, who were once VfB’s fierce local rivals but now play in the regional leagues. The Germans won the first game 2-0, but Barça won the next two, 2-1 and 2-0.
1954 Friendly (Les Corts)
Barça 3 (Manchon, Bosch, Moreno) Stuttgart 1
The first game against VfB and the only previous friendly between the sides was a testimonial match for Manuel Torres at Les Corts.
1994 Stuttgart Turnier
Barça 0 Bayern Munich 3
Barça 1 PSV Eindhoven 3
Barça first visited Stuttgart to appear in the German club’s preseason tournament. Johan Cryuff’s team lost the semi-final and the 3/4 playoff, and didn’t actually play the host club.
2007 Champions League Group E
Stuttgart 0 Barça 2 (Puyol, Messi)
Barça 3 (G Dos Santos, Eto'o, Ronaldinho) Stuttgart 1
The first competitive meetings were in the 2007/8 Champions League. Barça topped the group with an unbeaten record, while the Germans finished bottom with just 3 points.
2010 Champions League Round of 16
Stuttgart 1 Barça 1 (Ibrahimović)
Barça 4 (Messi 2, Pedro, Bojan) Stuttgart 0
The last time the sides met was 11 years ago in the first knockout round of the Champions League. Although Stuttgart scored first, Barça went on to win 5-1 on aggregate. This equalled Stuttgart’s best ever performance in the competition and they have not played in the Champions League since.
Most international caps: Wataru Endo (Japan, 28), Saša Kalajdžić (Austria, 11), Darko Churlinov (N Macedonia, 3), Konstantinos Mavropanos (Greece, 2)
Top scorers 2020/21: Saša Kalajdžić (17), Silas (13), Nicolás González (now of Fiorentina, 6)
New signings 2021/22: Florian Müller (Mainz 05), Konstantinos Mavropanos (Arsenal), Naouirou Ahamada (Juventus), Ömer Beyaz (Fenerbahçe), Alou Kuol (Central Coast Mariners), Chris Führich (SC Padrborn)
Pellegrino Matarazzo was born in the USA to a family of Italian descent. As a player he spent most of his time in the lower leagues in Germany. After serving in various coaching roles at FC Nürnberg and 1899 Hoffenheim, he was appointed manager of Stuttgart in 2019.
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