The German Bundesliga starts on August 5, and heinnews is providing extensive coverage in the buildup to the 2011-12 season with a club preview each day. Today is Stuttgart.

Stuttgart went through three head coaches and a relegation fight for two-thirds of the 2010-11 season. Coach Bruno Labbadia hopes his team can but behind them their overall struggles from last year and use a strong finish for confidence to once again compete for an international spot.

Labbadia took over Stuttgart on the 17th game day of last season – as the third coach of the team following Christian Gross and Jens Keller – and turned the team into the fourth-best side in the second half, with nine victories and 30 points – bettered only by Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund – to finish 12th overall, six points clear of the relegation fight.

The question in Stuttgart is can Labbadia continue his magic?

Labbadia has changed up his team a bit, getting rid of Elson and Ciprian Marica, allowing Sven Schipplock to go to Hoffenheim and sending Philipp Degan on loan to Liverpool.

Stuttgart have a major injury issue in the back line with captain Matthieu Delpierre dealing with a hip/thigh problem. And Labbadia brought in Mexican international Maza from PSV Eindhoven as a temporary replacement in the defense.

His arrival will also provide some help as Christian Träsch will be leaving Stuttgart shortly before the start of the season.

Labbadia added a strong defensive midfielder with the Danish international and former FC Copenhagen captain William Kvist. Another excellent acquisition for Stuttgart was Guinea international midfielder Ibrahima Traore, who comes from promoted side Augsburg after scoring eight goals and setting up 15 more in 45 second division matches.

The other main new player is actually a returnee as Julian Schieber comes back to Stuttgart after a year on loan with Nuremberg, where he had seven goals and nine assists. Schieber will provide more firepower for Stuttgart’s attack along with Cacau, Pavel Pogrebnyak and Martin Harnik.

As opposed to the past couple years, Stuttgart will not be playing internationally this season. This could be a huge help to the team – and Labbadia’s job. With the additional burden of the Champions League and Europa League, Stuttgart in the past two seasons have been 15th (2009-10) and 17th (2010-11) at the half-way point in the season and were the best (2010) and fourth-best (2011) teams in the second half.

With just one match a week, Stuttgart could use that and if they avoid injuries and if they play strong all season, they could actually challenge for a title. If, that is.




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