The former Bayern defender capped a fine display with the winning goal against Mainz, showing the leadership qualities for which he is renowned. Now Stuttgart fans want more as their season gets off the ground.
It was quite the afternoon in Stuttgart. New signing Chadrac Akolo looked the business in attack, and goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler, who joined Stuttgart last month from Leicester City, played his part, making a stunning save to keep his team in the game.
But above all, the Stuttgart faithful will be delighted with how Holger Badstuber delivered exactly what was expected of him - and a little extra.
It wasn't an easy start for the former Bayern defender. He had to handle quite a few counter-attacks by Mainz, and his most notable intervention came in the 18th minute, when he prevented a counter attack with a brilliant, rather risky tackle, after which it looked as if he couldn't get off the ground due to an injury. That didn't last long, though, and Badstuber returned to action. Badstuber was quick to dismiss any rumors of an injury. "No, no, no, I'm OK,” he told reporters after the final whistle.
Commanding at the back
Badstuber's goal was only his second ever in the Bundesliga, coming almost eight years after the first.
Talking about the former Germany defender, Stuttgart head coach Hannes Wolf said that he has "no worries” about Badstuber's troublesome knee, and while the defender admits that he's not yet completely fit, "the feeling comes back slowly.” Badstuber ended the game with 100 percent successful tackles.
But Badstuber's game was more than just about statistics. He spent large chunks of the game handing out orders to his fellow defenders, making sure their positioning was spot on and generally took the lead in the Stuttgart defense.
And then came the 53rd minute, when fellow defender Dennis Aogo took a corner kick, and his cross reached Badstuber, who capped a man-of-the-match performance with Stuttgart's winning goal, which sealed a first win since returning to the Bundesliga. It was only a second ever Bundesliga goal for Badstuber, a staggering eight years after the first.
Walking through Stuttgart
It was a special day in Stuttgart. The home fans marched together to the ground to mark the club's return to the top flight, and the streets of the Stuttgart quarter of Bad Cannstatt, where the Mercedes-Benz-Arena is located, were painted red. Flares, flags and thousands of Stuttgart supporters in their red-white shirts all played their part to create a special atmosphere in the hours ahead of kick off.
One of them, Luis, told of his expectations ahead of the upcoming season. "It was good that we went down, that way we could start rebuilding the club with young players, and when you add the experienced players like Badstuber I think we have a good chance” he said.
Wolf, however, tried not to talk about the 28-year-old's experience. "I feel that [talking about Badstuber's experience] is too simple. I don't want to reduce him to that. I prefer talking about his qualities,” said the Stuttgart coach at the post-match press conference.
The sentiment after the final whistle could be described as moderate happiness. While fans and players alike will enjoy Stuttgart's performance against Mainz, they know that, as the Stuttgart defender put it, "there's a lot of work to be done” this season to make sure they avoid relegation.
With a fit and in-form Holger Badstuber, they surely have more chances to make that happen.