VfB Stuttgart against Union Berlin in a half-empty stadium and with staff worries and – football

At the home game against Union Berlin, VfB Stuttgart will be able to fully utilize its stadium for the first time since the outbreak of the corona pandemic. Nevertheless, it should only be half full. In addition, the Swabians continue to be plagued by personnel concerns.

Pellegrino Matarazzo is an optimistic person. The coach of VfB Stuttgart does not want to complain long about the persistent personnel problems. The 43-year-old is also not complaining because on Sunday (5:30 pm) against 1. FC Union Berlin, “only” around 32,000 spectators will probably come to the arena.

“The glass is half-full”

“The coach always says the glass is half full and not half empty. That is why we see the stadium as half full and not half empty,” said press spokesman Tobias Herwerth on Friday about Matarazzo, who was smiling next to him. The Swabian Bundesliga club is allowed to completely fill its stadium again for the first time since March 2020 and could have received around 60,000 fans. But people are still hesitating, which for Matarazzo is only a matter of time. “It is then up to us to attract more spectators to the stadium,” he said.

Chants, choreographies and deafening cheers? Nothing! The return of fans to the stadiums has turned out differently than many people had hoped. The fan culture has changed, the audience capacity is not being used to the full. Is it just a matter of time or a real problem?

For example with an inspiring performance against the hard-to-crack Berliners who have only lost one Bundesliga game this season. The task is not made easier for Matarazzo by the fact that he continues to have to do without a number of regular employees. After their corona infections, head of defense Waldemar Anton and regular goalkeeper Florian Müller have not yet returned to team training and will be absent against Union. So again the form strong Konstantinos Mavropanos has to ensure the necessary defensive stability, who recently also shone as a goalscorer.


Konstantinos Mavropanos is currently showing strong performances at VfB Stuttgart (Photo: picture-alliance / Reportdienste, Picture Alliance)

Konstantinos Mavropanos’ potential had long been evident. But now the Greek, who used to be prone to injury, is also consistently fit – making him one of the strongest players at VfB Stuttgart at the moment.

Press the reset button

The winger Roberto Massimo, who was also recently isolated due to Corona, could train with the team on Friday afternoon at the earliest, but will also be out of the Union game. Attackers Omar Marmoush (blow on the syndesmosis tape) and Tanguy Coulibaly (bruise) are questionable. “Of course I get upset for a moment and think it’s a shame,” said Matarazzo, looking at the staff situation that has been tense for weeks. “But then I quickly hit the reset button again.”


Goal celebration to make it 1-0 by Christian Gentner in 2019 at the relegation game VfB Stuttgart against Union Berlin (Photo: picture-alliance / Reportdienste, picture alliance / dpa / Revierfoto | Revierfoto)

On Sunday (5:30 p.m.), VfB Stuttgart will host Union Berlin in the Bundesliga. Christian Gentner has played for both clubs and knows the clubs well. SWR Sport spoke exclusively to the 36-year-old.

Orel Mangala is fit again

After all, the 43-year-old coach can plan again with midfielder Orel Mangala and offensive man Erik Thommy, who are fit after their corona infections and will be in the squad. Mangala should even be back in the starting eleven and take the place in the recently so compact midfield center next to captain Wataru Endo and Atakan Karazor. “When you see the last two games and how we approached the games, you saw a powerful squad – despite injuries and despite the corona cases,” said Matarazzo. “That makes me optimistic. That speaks for the willingness of the players and a certain breadth in the squad.”

In fact, despite all the worries, VfB recently collected four points from the last two games, a win against Berlin would further increase the gap to the relegation zone. The Swabians rely on the support of the audience. Even if there are only around 32,000.



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