VfB Stuttgart vs RB Leipzig: probable teams, match stats and LIVE blog!
Bundesliga player of the season Christopher Nkunku takes his side from RB Leipzig to VfB Stuttgart, who are expected to be without Borna Sosa, for the start of the 2022/23 season on Sunday (kick-off: 3.30pm CEST).
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Croatia international Sosa only returned to team training on Wednesday after a lingering groin problem caused him to miss much of pre-season. This makes his involvement highly unlikely and deals a blow to Pellegrino Matarazzo. However, the American coach has reinforcements at the back after signing Josha Vagnoman from Hamburg. Will he also be able to forge a partnership with the big man at the top, Sasa Kalajdzic? The striker’s return to form in the second half of last season was key to Stuttgart’s ultimate survival. The Bundesliga’s tallest player missed the 1-0 DFB Cup first round win over Dynamo Dresden with an ankle problem but is expected to lead the line at the start of the league. Scorer of the crucial final day of last season, Wataru Endo, continues to lead the team, while Konstantinos Mavropanos has turned his loan from Arsenal into a permanent deal at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. Waldemar Anton’s red card in the cup is not carried over to the Bundesliga.
Leipzig’s fourth place and DFB Cup triumph last season has a lot to do with the impressive Nkunku. Twenty goals and 13 assists voted him the Bundesliga player of the season, and he got another as Die Roten Bullen kicked off their Supercopa campaign against Bayern Munich. Although they fell short in the 5-3 loss, their fightback signaled their intentions for 2022/23 as they look to build on a strong start under Domenico Tedesco. The coach opted to play Nkunku alone up front at the start of the Supercup before pairing him with Andre Silva to kick off the near comeback – expect them both to be present now. Leipzig have also gone from strength to strength with the arrival of Germany international David Raum, who is expected to slot straight in at left-back on his debut. It then comes down to whether Dani Olmo gets the nod ahead or with one of Emil Forsberg and Dominik Szoboszlai. Yussuf Poulsen remains on the sidelines as he works on his comeback, but there is hope that Josko Gvardiol could play a role to some degree.
Look: RB Leipzig in the title hunt in 2022/23
- Stuttgart lost just one of six Bundesliga games last season with a goal from top scorer Kalajdzic.
- Sosa has assisted nine of Kalajdzic’s 22 Bundesliga goals so far.
- Matarazzo completed his coaching badges alongside Tedesco and Bayern’s Julian Nagelsmann in March 2016.
- Nkunku has scored in 11 of his 17 Bundesliga appearances this calendar year.
- Stuttgart are the only Bundesliga side that Leipzig have faced eight times without losing (W7, D1).
- Leipzig were the best team in the 2021/22 season Rückrunde, with 36 points in 18 games. In 20 games under Tedesco, they claimed 40 points. Only Bayern have amassed more over this period (43 points).
Stuttgart: Müller – Mavropanos, Anton, Ito – Vagnoman, Endo (c), Ahamada, Silas – Führich – Kalajdzic, Tomas
Out: Coulibaly (toe), Karazor (fitness match), Kastanaras (ankle), Nartey (ankle), Sosa (fitness match)
Doubtful: Churlinov (back), Stenzel (back)
Coach: Pellegrino Matarazzo
Leipzig: Gulacsi (c) – Simakan, Orban, Halstenberg – Henrichs, Laimer, Kampl, Raum – Olmo – Nkunku, Silva
Out: Poulsen (thigh)
Doubtful: Gvardiol (muscular)
Coach: Dominique Tedesco