Filip Kostic has arguably been Stuttgart's best player this season. NORBERT SCHMIDT/Getty ImagesAs for Dortmund, it's difficult to point out one specific player without knowing Tuchel's lineup plans. It would be interesting to see how Pulisic follows up on his best performance and first goal at the senior level against Hamburg on the previous matchday, for example. Adrian Ramos, who is likely to lead to the line in the absence of Aubameyang, will look to improve on his impressive numbers in 2016:WhoScored. com @WhoScoredAdrián Ramos: Has averaged a goal every 82. 7 mins in the Bundesliga in 2016 #BVBHSVKey BattleJurgen Kramny vs.
Predicted Starting XI: Burki; Ginter, Sokratis, Hummels, Passlack; Sahin, Durm, Leitner; Mkhitaryan, Ramos, Pulisic. Players to WatchOne player whose individual performances haven't suffered too much during Stuttgart's poor run of form is left-winger Filip Kostic. The Serbian attacker has the pace and technical abilities to pose problems to any right-back in the league. Having scored and assisted four goals each in the "Ruckrunde, " as Germans call the second half of the season, the 23-year-old has been his side's most consistent danger man.
Centre-back Timo Baumgartl "is feeling the effects of a flu virus, " per the club. Lukas Rupp's availability is still questionable. PATRIK STOLLARZ/Getty ImagesMidfielder Lukas Rupp, one of Stuttgart's top performers this season, is questionable after overcoming a flu himself, but told Kicker's George Moissidis (link in German) that he expects to be able to play. Kramny could opt for a cautious approach with five at the back, which worked well against Bayern until defender Georg Niedermeier scored an own goal. Predicted Starting XI: Tyton; Harnik, Schwaab, Niedermeier, Sunjic, Insua; Rupp, Gentner; Didavi, Kostic; Werner. DortmundAlthough the 3-0 win over Hertha in the DFB-Pokal semi-final in midweek required surprisingly little effort from Dortmund, rotation is again expected.
THOMAS KIENZLE/Getty ImagesDate: Saturday, April 23Time: 2:30 p. m. BST/9:30 a. ET/3:30 p. local timeVenue: Mercedes Benz Arena, StuttgartTV Info: Gol TV USA (U. S. only)Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go (U. only)Form GuideStuttgartDortmundIngolstadt: Draw (3-3)Liverpool: Draw (1-1)Leverkusen: Loss (2-0)Schalke: Draw (2-2)Darmstadt: Draw (2-2)Liverpool: Loss (4-3)Bayern: Loss (3-1)Hamburg: Win (3-0)Augsburg: Loss (1-0)Hertha: Win (3-0)Predicted LineupsStuttgartLong-term Dortmund player Kevin Grosskreutz will miss the game with an injury, as will midfielder Serey Die and striker Daniel Ginczek, another former Dortmund man.
Thomas TuchelThe tactical battle between the two head coaches should be interesting. Last time the two sides met, Dortmund deviated from their usual, dominant possession-based playing style, as Tuchel put Durm and Aubameyang on the wing, with Reus as the centre-forward. The Black and Yellows widened the pitch and, to a degree, conceded possession to the Swabians, practically eliminating the threat of counter-attacks. The coaching battle could determine the outcome on Matchday 31. THOMAS KIENZLE/Getty ImagesThat was, however, during a time in which Stuttgart were the in-form team of German football, as they came off five straight wins in the league.
We are approaching the tasks ahead positively and we firmly believe we can get some positive results. "The game is of little significance for the Black and Yellows, whose focus solely lies on the DFB-Pokal final against Bayern Munich on May 21. They have nothing to play for in the Bundesliga, having already clinched a second-place finish weeks ago. A loss against Stuttgart will mean Bayern win the title with a win at Hertha BSC, so Dortmund may try to delay the inevitable. Saturday's visitors have won twice against the Swabians this season already—the aforementioned 4-1 in the league and a 3-1 away win in the cup in February—and haven't lost against them since January 2010. This is their longest such run in the Bundesliga, according to Thursday's edition of German sport magazine Kicker. Although some of the recent meetings were quite scrappy, Dortmund usually got the better of Stuttgart.
Head coach Thomas Tuchel has made a number of changes for every Bundesliga game in recent weeks. Fouls were Stuttgart's only hope of stopping Ilkay Gundogan in the cup in February, but he might not play this time around. THOMAS KIENZLE/Getty ImagesIlkay Gundogan could be out after picking up a knock to his ankle late in Wednesday's game, as Dortmund surely won't take any risks in a rather meaningless game. Star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is highly unlikely to feature, having "chipped a bone" in his toe on Monday, per the club's official website. Players such as Matthias Ginter, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Erik Durm, Nuri Sahin or Moritz Leitner, all of whom didn't feature in the cup, could get the nod in the starting XI, while 17-year-olds Felix Passlack and Christian Pulisic could return to the lineup as well.
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