Hertha Berlin vs VfB Stuttgart Preview: Can Hertha repeat last season's form against returning Swabians?

Hertha Berlin vs VfB Stuttgart Preview: Can Hertha repeat last season's form against returning Swabians?

Hertha qualified for the Europa League as one of last season's surprise packages, but will they repeat that form starting on Saturday against Stuttgart?

jack-mcgraghan
Jack McGraghan

Saturday afternoon sees the new Bundesliga season finally get underway as Hertha Berlin host newly promoted VfB Stuttgart, with both sides possessing very different ambitions for the upcoming campaign.

Following last season's sixth placed finish, Hertha are hoping to avoid a slump in the league as a result of their Europa League participation as Mainz 05 experienced last season.

Stuttgart meanwhile are back in the top-flight with a young manager at the helm and are looking to consolidate themselves in the Bundesliga upon their return.

Will the Europa League affect Hertha's league form?

One thing that is widely accepted about the Europa League is that the teams who don't have the funds to go out and buy numerous players to increase their squad depth suffer domestically as a result of the extra midweek fixtures.

Pál Dárdai has acquired Davie Selke, Matthew Leckie and Karim Rekik on permanent deals while Valentino Lazaro has joined on loan from Red Bull Salzburg in order to increase the number of options available to him this season.

Losing United States international John Brooks will have an impact on Hertha's defence early on at least while Rekik settles into the squad, but Dárdai will hope the Dutchman can prove an adequate replacement for the centre-back.

With Selke signed to succeed former Stuttgart forward Vedad Ibišević, the German could prove a key figure this season should he be afforded the playing time he desires.

Hertha lost twice in pre-season against Liverpool and Aston Villa, but have won their last three coming into Saturday's fixture with 3.Liga side Hansa Rostock defeated in the DFB Pokal last time out.

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Stuttgart re-emerge from the second tier with a fresh face at the helm

Stuttgart return to the Bundesliga following their 2.Bundesliga title winning season with a new manager in the shape of 36-year-old Hannes Wolf, who is the third youngest boss in the German top-flight after Hoffenheim's Julian Nagelsmann and new Schalke 04 boss Domenico Tedesco.

The Swabians have opted to bolster their defence, which is relatively inexperienced in the Bundesliga, by adding experienced players such as Ron-Robert Zieler, Holger Badstuber and Dennis Aogo to their ranks.

Experience has also been mixed with youth however, with 19-year-old midfielders Dzenis Burnic and Orel Mangala joining from Borussia Dortmund on loan and RSC Anderlecht Reserves permanently amongst others.

Keeping Badstuber fit will be key to Stuttgart's fortunes defensively, while up top talisman Simon Terodde will need to replicate his 2.Bundesliga goalscoring form to keep his side away from danger throughout the season.

Pre-season heralded a mixed bag of results for Wolf's men with defeats against Heideheim, Dynamo Dresden and Real Betis balanced out by victories over Asteras Tripolis and Kasımpaşa S.K.

Stuttgart progressed to the second round of the DFB Pokal last week in unconvicing fashion, taking a penalty shootout to defeat Energie Cottbus after 120 minutes of football resulted in a 2-2 draw.

Hertha were victorious in the last iteration of this fixture back in September 2015, winning 2-1 at the Olympiastadion with all three goals coming in the first-half.

Team news

Hertha have new signings Selke and Lazaro out due to injury, while Maximilian Mittelstädt and Jonathan Kilnsmann will also not be involved in the matchday squad.

Striker Julian Schieber faces a battle to be fit in time for the game meaning Alexander Esswein and Ibšsević are the men in contention to start up front on Saturday.

Emiliano Insúa, Daniel Ginczek and Carlos Mané are all injured and will play no part for Stuttgart while new signing Aogo and centre-back Timo Baumgartl are doubts for the game.

Predicted line-ups

Hertha Berlin (4-4-2): Jarstein; Plattenhardt, Rekik, Langkamp, Weiser; Leckie, Skjelbred, Darida, Kalou; Esswein, Ibišević.

VfB Stuttgart (4-2-3-1): Zieler; Aogo; Baumgartl, Badstuber, Pavard; Gentner, Burnic; Brekalo, Asano, Akolo; Terodde. 

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