Bundesliga: Stuttgart stride, Hamburg limp back from winter camp | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 16.01.2016
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Bundesliga: Stuttgart stride, Hamburg limp back from winter camp

As the Bundesliga teams return from their winter training camps, DW looks at the winners and losers. Hamburg were hit by a raft of injuries, while Stuttgart seem to be sporting out their defensive difficulties.

Winners: Stuttgart

Stuttgart, of course, made headlines when they inked Kevin Grosskreutz this winter, but perhaps more important was the form the team as whole showed in their friendlies.

The Southern Germans were unbeaten in their three test matches in Belek, Turkey against opposition that included first-division Turkish side Antalyaspor and Bundesliga rivals Hannover. What especially pleased coach Jürgen Kramny was their work at the back.

"I said right from the start that team spirit was important, and we chose lots of forms of training where that played a role," Kramny said in Belek. "We played three friendlies and only conceded one goal. That's precisely what we wanted - to develop a good defense while remaining dangerous up front."

Stuttgart currently teeter just above the drop zone because they had by far and away the worst defense in the Bundesliga in the first season half. If they address that problem, they'll fancy their chances to stay up.

Zlatko Junuzovic

Just below Stuttgart in third-from-last place, Werder Bremen have trouble not only defending, but scoring goals. So they'll be cheering the return from injury of midfielder Zaltko Junuzovic.

Junozovic made his return from a pesky shoulder injury in Bremen's final test match against Austria Vienna in Belek (Werder drew 2-2). There appears to be no reason why he shouldn't start when the Northern Germans kick off the second half of the season on January 24 against Schalke.

The Austrian, who's one of the best takers of free kicks in the league, was out of sorts in the first half of the season, no doubt due to physical problems. Now he seems to be back.

Bundesliga Training Borussia Mönchengladbach - Jonas Hofmann

Hofmann should be a heck of a lot happier at Mönchengladbach

Jonas Hofmann

There was a moderate amount of player movement within the Bundesliga as the teams practiced in warmer climes, and the player who's probably most glad he swapped employers is midfielder Jonas Hofmann.

The 23-year-old was going nowhere fast at Dortmund, featuring in only seven domestic matches, before upping stakes for the other Borussia. He and Gladbach appear to be a good match. Hofmann regularly played from the start in the Foals' friendlies. And since Gladbach coughed up eight million euros for him, he can assume that he'll get substantial playing time when the German league resumes next week.

Losers: Hamburg

If one point of winter field trips is to grab some self-confidence, then Hamburg won't be looking back at any snapshots of theirs to Belek. The Northern Germans lost all of their test matches to foes that included third-division Rot-Weiss Erfurt.

"I don't want to panic anyone, but the second half of the season is going to be a huge challenge for us," coach Bruno Labbadia told Bild newspaper after Hamburg went down to Swiss side Young Boys Bern 2-1 in their final friendly. "Our days here were hardly optimal. We had lots of injuries, and we could only practice with the same group of players for a couple of days."

The team's only reliable striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga re-aggravated a shoulder injury while celebrating. And defender Emir Spahic also went down against Bern. The status of those two players, and others, uncertain, as Hamburg prepare to face Bayern Munich on Friday.

Bundesliga 17. Spieltag Stuttgart - Wolfsburg Bas Dost

Dost will be out for weeks, if not months, with a busted foot

Bas Dost

2015-16 hasn't been Bas Dost's season. The gigantic Dutchman gradually lost his starting role for Wolfsburg, despite ending up with a respectable seven goals at the mid-way point. And his campaign went from bad to worse when he broke his left foot in practice on January 12.

"It was a completely normal one-on-one battle," Dost said after the diagnosis. "It was plain unlucky how things turned out."

Wolfsburg sports director Klaus Allofs hinted that Dost's injury might make him take a closer look at the transfer market, and the name Mame Diouf, currently at Premiership side Stoke, has been mooted. If Diouf is brought in to Germany's motor city, it will be all the harder for Dost to get playing time when he returns.

Sasha Burchert

Bundesliga fans with longer memories will recall the black day suffered by Sascha Burchert in 2009, when Hertha Berlin's long-term back up keeper bravely left his box twice to head away balls, only to see opponents Hamburg score both times from the midfield line.

He went that one better on January 12 in Belek. Substituted in at half-time in a friendly against second-division Bochum, with Hertha leading 1-0, Burchert made not one, not two, but three slapstick errors to send Berlin down to an embarrassing 4-1 defeat.

The 26-year-old desperately needs a change of scenario to reboot his career. Unfortunately for him, he's not getting one. Hertha loaned out one of its other young keepers, so Burchert will be condemned to the role of last-ditch reserve until the end of the season.

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