Stuttgart should be safe from the drop | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 20.05.2015
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Stuttgart should be safe from the drop

For Stuttgart, the relegation battle could hardly be more dramatic. The schedule for the final day has pit Stuttgart against Paderborn in a 'winner-takes-all' showdown.

The maths: it's in their own hands

Ahead of Matchday 34 and the last game of the season, the relegation battle remains wide open. Six teams are still fighting to secure their Bundesliga safety - more than in any other season at this stage.

The tradition-laden club from the south-west will play their last 90 minutes of the season against direct challengers SC Paderborn. It's the ultimate relegation six-pointer: 16th in the Bundesliga goes head-to-head with the bottom-placed club.

While there are just two points between the two sides, Stuttgart has the advantage of having their fate in their own hands. A win will undoubtedly ensure their Bundesliga status continues. Also, the Swabians are fuelled by a new-found confidence after two home wins on the spin, especially from the 2-1 win over Hamburg last weekend.

"What happened in Matchday 33 doesn't count any more," said sporting director Robin Dutt. "In Paderborn, the atmosphere is already electric."

The strong attack of Daniel Ginczek and Daniel Didavi offers hope, even if they should be converting more of their chances. Yet away from home, Stuttgart has significant problems - in 2015 there have been four losses and two draws.

Deutschland Fußball Bundesliga VfB Stuttgart - Hamburger SV

Stuttgart fans rally together

The mood: Relying on mental strength

After months of shaking in the relegation battle, Stuttgart is well-positioned for the match in Paderborn. "We are emotionally well-prepared," Dutt added. Like in previous weeks, Dutt and coach Huub Stevens have brought a sense of calm to the place. Nothing has changed at training in the last few days.

"It's important sometimes to just say 'we feel good about what we are doing,'" said Dutt. "We can't just hope that the competition will help us. We have to rely on ourselves and go for the win."

In the final weeks of the season, everybody has joined forces at Stuttgart, which shouldn't be taken for granted. Fans, dressed in all-white, helped their side in the recent clash with Hamburg. Hundreds marched from a local train station to the stadium as a show of unity. Even former players like Timo Hildebrand stood with the fans as his ex-club look to avoid the drop.

"It looked like for a long time that Stuttgart had no chance of going into the second division," the keeper said on Germany's "Sky" channel "but they have recovered phenomenally and have a starting point going into the last game."

The prognosis: Huub's experience could save VfB

Huub Stevens

Huub Stevens has brought calm - and results - to Stuttgart

Despite their poor away record, the table situation could be advantageous for Stuttgart - Paderborn must win to survive and hope other results still go their way. What stands up for Paderborn is that there is nothing to lose. The support from the home fans will be unconditional in order to complete the miracle. According to the team based in East Westphalia, they will fight until they drop.

Of course, in Huub Stevens, Stuttgart has exactly the sort of coach who is experienced and proven in relegation battles. The Dutchman has never been relegated as a coach in the Bundesliga and that should be the case after this showdown too. Expect his team to take advantage of the fact that Paderborn has to attack and to snatch a few goals on the counter-attack.

Now that calmness has been restored to Stuttgart, Stevens' under-performing side should survive.

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