Hanno Behrens, the captain of the 1. FC Nuremberg, is by his nature rather a quiet representative of his guild. You will hardly ever hear him say anything pithy, forceful or pithy – at least not in public. The defensive midfield strategist prefers actions to words. In this respect, his statements, which the 29-year-old made after the 3-0 win over FC Augsburg, are extremely remarkable for their rarity and emotionality: “We”re going to dig in and fight for our lives in the last seven games.” Hanno Behrens in the role of “emotional leader” – like Mark van Bommel once did at FC Bayern Munchen.
Life, that much is certain, will not be affected in the game at VfB Stuttgart. Nevertheless, and this should express the words of Behrens, the seventeenth in the table in the duel against the sixteenth in the table will make every effort to get the first away "three" of the season – and at the same time to minimize the gap to the relegation place to one point. Kickoff at the sold-out Stuttgart stadium – including 6,000 to 7,000 Nuremberg fans – is at 15 p.m. Saturday.30 o"clock.
Subdued mood at VfB
While Club Nuremberg has regained hope in the fight to stay in the league after its recent success, the mood at VfB Stuttgart is much more subdued. The team of coach Markus Weinzierl has only one win to its name this year. The meager six points added to the VfB account until the beginning of April have also done little to calm the overall situation.
One reason for Stuttgart’s permanent stay in the relegation zone is that the team has been in the bottom 16 since the end of the season. The main reason for the team’s 16th-place finish on Matchday 16 is the poor finishing of the players responsible for the offense. Former international Mario Gomez has already scored six times for the Swabians, but the form curve of the powerful striker has been pointing constantly downwards for weeks now. Also the Argentine Nicolas Gonzalez, only 20-year-old, impetuous talent, is missing in the "big point situations" the coolness in front of goal. From the Greek Anastasios Donis (22 years) also comes much too little output.
"Must keep the peace"
It’s hardly surprising that VfB’s 26 goals are the third fewest scored after Hannover (24) and Nuremberg (22). The displeasure of the Stuttgart supporters, however, is directed less against the personnel on the green pitch, who are acting within the scope of their possibilities, than against VfB President Wolfgang Dietrich (70). With banners, the fans make it clear who they think is really responsible for the sporting misery.
The entrepreneur, who has been in charge of the three-time German champions (1984, 1992, 2007) since 2016, is aware of the precarious situation, but is sure to come out of it with a black eye. "Of course it makes my stomach hurt", Dietrich told the Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper. "We must remain calm. We’ll keep that – and then we’ll get through it." It sounds as if Dietrich fears that things could get really uncomfortable in the club’s immediate surroundings if the team suffers another defeat. It is understandable that the president before the game against the 1. FC Nuremberg from a "must-win game speaks. However, coach Markus Weinzierl cannot field his best squad. Due to injuries, captain Christian Gentner and Gonzalo Castro are out; in contrast, midfielder Santiago Ascacibar may play again after his yellow suspension.
Fans a valuable asset
The atmosphere at the club is quite different. The players could and can rely on the support of the public at all times; moreover, despite the long dry spell with 20 matches without a "three-goal win," the internal climate has become a valuable asset not suffered. So you take it from defender Lukas Muhl without batting an eye when he says that they are a super squad and always positive. "The mood", says Muhl "is generally good." Now it is of course even better "because we have won again".
The 22-year-old, who came to the Valznerweiher from TSV Regen in 2011, denied that the mental state of the protagonists would be the main factor against VfB Stuttgart: "Every game is a mental game." It is more important to have the "right attitude on the pitch". A linguistically somewhat skewed picture, which meets however the core. Because the attitude has, with a few exceptions, always been right. In this respect, the optimism that goalkeeper Christian Mathenia exudes is not one that is flaunted. "I’m confident that we’ll get three points again." It would be the first in the opponent’s stadium – and the associated hope for a further advance in the table.