VFB STUTTGART

NOVEMBER 2022

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Founded: Sep 9, 1893
Club Members: 75,000
Nickname: Die Schwaben
Coach: Michael Wimmer
Captain: Wataru Endo


German Champions / Bundesliga: 5
DFB-Pokal: 3
German Super Cup Winner: 1
Bundesliga.2 Champions: 2


Website: www.vfb.de

 

Hailing from Germany's motor city, VfB Stuttgart are one of the biggest clubs in the country and were formed through a merger in 1912 between two long forgotten local clubs - Stuttgarter FV and Kronen-Club Cannstatt - although they've taken FV's year of foundation (1893) as their own. They spent their formative years in the Kreisliga Württemberg before lifting the Bezirksliga Württemberg-Baden title in 1927 as they battled city rivals Stuttgarter Kickers for Württemberg-Baden supremacy. In 1933, the same year that the club moved onto the site of their current stadium, German football was reorganised into 16 top-flight divisions called Gauligen and Stuttgart helped themselves to five Gauliga Württemberg titles between 1935 and 1943 before World War 2 brought an end to the Gauliga system.

Once football and dictatorship had managed to untangle themselves after the war, Stuttgart resumed competition in the top-flight Oberliga Süd led by star striker Robert Schlienz. Born in 1924, the young Schlienz was destined to have his nascent football career interrupted by World War 2 and as soon as he was old enough he was drafted into the Wehrmacht and sent to the Eastern Front. It wasn't long before he met the bullet with his name on it and although it didn't kill him, it did leave him with a shattered jaw and permanent scarring. Returning home with an honourable discharge, Schlienz approached his home town club FV Zuffenhausen for game time only to find they'd been decimated by the war with players still away fighting or killed in action. He followed his former Zuffenhausen manager Ernst Schnaitmann to Stuttgart instead and signed on as a 'guest player' - a common practice in German football at the time due to the shortage of players available to make up teams - and he soon earned himself a permanent contract by smashing in 46 goals in 30 matches as Stuttgart gave some joy to the war-weary city by lifting the Oberliga Süd title in 1946.

As the post-war years rolled on, Schlienz kept scoring but on August 13th 1948, his mother passed away. He was given compassionate leave to miss training and return home but he was determined to feature in Stuttgart's match at Aalen the following day and borrowed a friend's car to make the 70km journey. Along the way however, the car hit a pothole, rolled over and the resulting crash led to the amputation of Schlienz's left arm. After returning to training, Schlienz worked with the club's coaches to reinvent himself as an inside forward - a less physical position than centre forward and incredibly, just 113 days after the accident, he returned to the field as Stuttgart took on Bayern München in December 1948. Growing into his new role as playmaker-in-chief and team captain, Schlienz was instrumental as Stuttgart became national champions in 1950 and 1952 before following this up with Oberliga Süd titles in 1952 and 1954 and the DFB-Pokal in 1954 and 1958.

Despite his influence during a golden era for Stuttgart however, Schlienz missed out on the 1954 World Cup as national manager Sepp Herberger, although fully aware of his ability, felt that opponents would take it easy on him because of his handicap and it was something that he felt he couldn't accept. Schlienz therefore had to join the rest of the nation gathered around their radios and TVs at home as the newly founded Federal Republic overcame Ferenc Puskas' all-conquering Hungarians in the final -  a match still referred to this day in Germany as "Das Wunder von Bern" (The Miracle of Bern).

After failing to follow up the 1954 World Cup triumph, the German FA (DFB) replaced the regional top-flight competitions with a single nationwide professional league in 1963 and Stuttgart's consistently strong performances up to this date earned them a place amongst the chosen sixteen founder clubs of the new Bundesliga. In terms of how the club was run however, Stuttgart remained an amateur organisation (some of their players continued to work 9-5 jobs) and with the club stubbornly true to the Swabian stereotype of being tight-fisted, a lack of investment meant the next decade was spent largely in mid-table obscurity although they did make it to the UEFA Cup semi-final in 1974 where they lost out to eventual winners Feyenoord.

By the mid-1970s, dark clouds were gathering as VfB paid the price for being slow to embrace the professional game - missing out on new trends in football such as club sponsorship before spending a lot of money in an unsuccessful attempt to play catch-up with the clubs around them. As is so often the case when a football club runs into financial problems - even those as big as VfB Stuttgart, relegation inevitably follows and Die Roten (The Reds) spent a couple of seasons in Bundesliga.2 where they reached their nadir with a home defeat against local rivals SSV Reutlingen in front of just 1,200 fans.

The club regained their football composure under new coach Jürgen Sundermann who was brought in ahead of the 1976-77 season and he built a young team around the talents of Karl-Heinz Förster, Hansi Müller and Ottmar Hitzfeld as VfB scored a 100 league goals on their way to the Bundesliga.2 title and a return to the top-flight. Stuttgart used the momentum to establish themselves amongst German football's elite with a number of top-four finishes and another UEFA Cup semi-final in 1980 before finally clinching their first ever Bundesliga title in 1984, lifting the Meisterschale on goal difference after a thrilling battle with Hamburg and Borussia Monchengladbach. Die Swarbian (The Swarbians) maintained the challenge for honours throughout the decade with Jürgen Klinnsmann spearheading their attack although they had to wait for further honours to arrive in Swabia - losing the 1986 DFB-Pokal final to Bayern München and falling at the final hurdle to a Diego Maradona-inspired Napoli in the UEFA Cup in 1989.

Stuttgart's next taste of silverware finally arrived in 1992 when they clinched their fourth title after edging out Borussia Dortmund to once again become champions on goal difference in one of the closest title races in Bundesliga history. The following season's Champions League campaign however ended at the first hurdle - and in controversy - after Stuttgart were forced to play a deciding third match against English champions Leeds United. Already 3-0 up from the first leg of the first-round tie, Die Roten were given the run-around by a rampant Leeds side in the return leg at Elland Road but somehow managed to hold on and get through on away goals despite losing 1-4 on the night. The Germans celebrated and the English trudged off the field devastated that their European campaign was over no sooner than it had begun.

But that wasn't the end of the matter.

At the time, clubs were allowed to field only three foreigners in European matches and the introduction eight minutes from time of Yugoslav defender Jovo Simanic by coach Christoph Daum (subsequently dubbed 'Christoph Dumb' by the British press) had unwittingly taken Stuttgart over the limit. After being alerted to the mistake, UEFA declared the result at Elland Road 'null and void' before awarding Leeds a 3-0 victory instead which made the aggregate score of 3-3. A play-off to decide which of the teams would progress to the next round took place in Barcelona's Nou Camp and was won by the Yorkshiremen 2-1, courtesy of goals by Gordon Strachan and Carl Shutt.


Stuttgart returned to European competition in 1997 after winning the DFB-Pokal against Energie Cottbus and with future ''Nationalelf'" manager Joachim Löw at the helm and featuring the "Magic Triangle" of Krassimir Balakov, Giovane Elber and Fredi Bobić, they made it all the way to the European Cup Winners Cup final in 1998 where Chelsea were the next to deny them glory with a 1-0 victory. Things then began to unravel again as Elber and Bobić left and Löw's contract wasn't renewed - replaced by Winfried Schäfer who in turn was sacked after just one season as Stuttgart's performances tailed off.

In addition to problems developing on the pitch, the club's beleaguered finances saw long-term club president Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder step down in 2000, leaving his replacement Manfred Haas to renegotiate the expensive contracts drawn up with players, some of whom had seldom pulled on a Stuttgart shirt anyway. As in 1976, when Mayer-Vorfelder had taken over, Stuttgart needed to re-establish the link between the first team and the club's highly regarded youth system; and under new coach Ralf Rangnick, and later Felix Magath, Stuttgart built an exciting young team around the talents of Philip Lahm, Kevin Kuranyi, Timo Hildebrand and Alexander Hleb who earned themselves the nickname "
Die Jung und Wild" (the young and wild). However, despite winning the Intertoto Cup in 2000 and 2002 and a couple of strong Bundesliga campaigns including a runners-up finish in 2003, Stuttgart began to struggle again and along with Magath; Lahm, Kuranyi and Hleb all left VfB with fans accusing the club of not doing enough to hold onto their brightest prospects.

After the hiring and firing of high-profile coaches Mattias Sammer and Geovanni Trappatoni, Armin Veh arrived in 2006 as a stop-gap appointment (he'd been out of the game for a few seasons having taken a sabbatical to spend more time with his family) but succeeded where his illustrious predecessors had failed by unexpectedly leading a team featuring Mario Gomez, Serdar Tasci and Sami Khedira to their first Bundesliga title for 15 years after holding their nerve on the run-in to win the final eight games of the season. Hopes of a double that year were dashed though when 1.FC Nürnberg beat them in extra-time to lift the DFB-Pokal.


Since that last title win however, chaos and disorder have come to characterise Stuttgart with no fewer than 16 different coaches; and the likes of Benjamin Pavard, Sami Khedira, Serge Gnabry, Filip Kostic, Joshua Kimmich, Timo Werner, Antonio Rüdiger, Bernd Leno and Sebastian Rudy have all joined the list of prospects produced by the club's academy to have been tempted away from the Mercedes Benz Arena. With no semblance of a coherent long-term plan at the club, it was little surprise when the five-time German champions were relegated back to Bundesliga.2 in 2016, and again for a third time in 2019 when they lost the two-legged relegation play-off match against Union Berlin. 

Stuttgart are now back in the top-flight and the brief given to Director of Football Thomas Hitzlsperger (a member of the 2007 title-winning team) is not only to retain the club's Bundesliga status but also ensure that mistakes of the past aren't repeated by establishing a long-term stability off the pitch and, crucially, an identity on it based around homegrown talent - something Stuttgart were once renowned for. And if the next generation of players need any inspiration about overcoming adversity to help Stuttgart achieve their aim, then they don't need to look any further than the name given to the home of the club's youth sides - the Robert Schlienz Stadion

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Video used with the kind permission of Stadiums From The Sky
- Drone Footage of Stadiums All Over The World

 GROUND DETAILS 

Ground Name: Mercedes Benz Arena

Year Opened: 1933
Renovations: 1949 - 1951, 1955 - 1956, 1963, 1971 - 1973, 1990, 1992 - 1993, 1999 - 2001, 2004 - 2005, 2009 - 2011, 2017, 2022 - 2023

Capacity: 60,449 (11,225 standing)
Record Attendance: 103,000 (1950)

Executive Boxes: 66
Business Seats: 2,528
Media Seats: 144
Wheelchair Spaces: 170

Undersoil Heating: Yes

Running Track: No
Floodlights: 2,151 lux
LED Video Screens: 61.2m² x 2

Playing Surface: Natural Grass

Pitch Size: 105m x 68m

Website: 
www.mercedes-benz-arena-stuttgart.de

Grounds:
Adolf Hitler Kampfbahn (1933 - 1945)
Century Stadium (1945 - 1949) *
Neckarstadion (1949 - 1993) *
Gottlieb Daimler Stadion (1993 - 2008) *
Mercedes Benz Arena (2008 - ) *

* Stadium Renamed

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Looking very different from the day it opened as the Adolf Hitler Kampfbahn in 1933, the Mercedes Benz Arena has been transformed from a continental concrete bowl into one of Germany's most modern and iconic stadiums - its sweeping curved roof standing out on the Stuttgart skyline. 

It was expanded as interest in sport grew across Germany following the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and after the upheaval of the war years (and a couple of stadium name changes) it hosted Germany's first post-war international when 103,000 packed the stands of the Neckarstadion to see Die Mannschaft take on Switzerland in 1950. In fact, it's Stuttgart's proximity to the Swiss border that has led to seven internationals between the two countries being hosted here. The stadium was also the venue for the 1959 European Cup final between Real Madrid and Stade Reims, and the Cup Winners Cup final in 1962.

Ahead of the 1974 World Cup Finals to be held in Germany a new grandstand was built and with capacity now just over 70,000, the Neckarstadion hosted four matches during the tournament. By this time, it was widely acknowledged as one of the best stadiums in the country and so it was no surprise when it was chosen as one of the venues for the 1988 European Championships, hosting two matches including the Republic of Ireland's triumph over England in the group stages courtesy of Ray Houghton's winner.

The renovations continued throughout the 1990s and despite the work undertaken in previous years, it was during this phase that the stadium we see today really began to take shape. The main stand was rebuilt, most of the terraces were converted to seating and the iconic tent-like roof was added ahead of the 1993 World Athletics Championships.
 
After the 2006 World Cup yet more work was carried out on the stadium. This time, a €60 million programme of works was carried out to convert the Gottlieb-Daimler Stadion (as it was now known) into a football-only venue by doing away with the running track and bringing the stands at either end closer to the pitch - a task made no easier by the discovery of 18 undetonated World War 2 bombs within two weeks of the work starting.

The venue is currently undergoing another overhaul to get it ready to host matches in Euros 2024 with the focal point of the work being the Haupttribüne (main stand) - the last remaining 'old part' of the stadium. The redevelopment - expected to be completed by the end of next year - involves rebuilding the lower tier, new media rooms, changing rooms, kitchens and a "Tunnel Club" business area. The €97 million project which is being covered by the City of Stuttgart also includes a €1.5 million photovoltaic installation on the roof and will see a temporary reduction in stadium capacity to 50,000.

Today the stadium goes by the name of the Mercedes Benz Arena, although the locals still refer to their home as Neckarstadion; and it's a continuous sweep around three sides with a deep lower tier ringing the pitch and a relatively narrow tier perched above. The main stand is similar but has a more spacious upper tier to allow for the executive boxes and press area. A couple of video walls (the highest resolution in a European stadium) suspended from the roof at either end of the ground completes the look of the arena.


The Stuttgart home end is the 8,200 capacity Cannstatter Kurve at the west end of the ground (Blocks 31-37) and away fans are given space in the southeastern corner between the Untertürkheimer Kurve and Kärcher Tribüne side (Blocks 61-65).

 BUYING TICKETS 

Ticket Office:
Website: www.shop.vfb.de/tickets/
Telephone: +49 (0) 180 6991893
Email: Contact Form via Website

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Average Attendance:
2021-2022: 27,207 (Bundesliga) *
2020-2021: N/A *
2019-2020: 39,503 (Bundesliga.2) *
2018-2019: 54,550 (Bundesliga)
2017-2018: 56,369 (Bundesliga)
* Season affected by COVID pandemic

Expected Ticket Availability

Despite having a big stadium to fill, this is an equally big and popular club and promotion back to the Bundesliga will now only see demand for tickets increase. You should still be able to get a ticket for all but the most high profile matches, but it's probably better to buy in advance to avoid risking a sell-out. 

Tickets can be purchased at the VfB Online shop (which offers an English Language option), the VfB Fan-Center at the ground (
9am-6pm, Mon-Fri; 10am-3pm, Sat; 3.5 hours before kick-off and for one hour after full-time on matchdays) or over the phone (+49 (0) 1806 - 99 1893; 9am-6pm, Mon-Fri; 10am-kick-off on a Saturday matchday; 3.5 hours before kick-off on a Sunday matchday). Tickets for VfB's home games are also available in the VfB City Shop on Königstraße in the centre of Stuttgart, the VfB Fan Shop in Breuningerland and in the Tourist Information Office at Stuttgart Airport. (see the Fan Shops, Museum and Stadium Tours section below).

The club also run an official Secondary Market, although this is really aimed at Season Ticket holders to make their ticket available if they can't make a match.

Information about visiting the Mercedes Benz Arena for fans with disabilities can be found at:
www.bundesliga-reisefuehrer.de 


PLEASE NOTE: All information in this section is subject to change due to COVID regulations. Please refer to the club website for the latest ticket information.

 GETTING THERE & AWAY 

Stadium Address:

Mercedesstraße 87,
70372 Stuttgart

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BY CAR:
For a city famous for its contribution to the motor industry, a lot of effort has been made to encourage people to leave the car at home and it's worth noting that the Mercedes Benz Arena is located in an 'Environmental Zone' which means only vehicles that comply with emission standards are allowed anywhere near. Assuming therefore that you're not driving an ice cap melting 4X4, as you approach Stuttgart along either the B10 or B14 autobahns, you'll start picking up the Neckarpark traffic control signs to the stadium where you'll find over 12,000 parking spaces available in the Mercedesstraße area, with additional parking available for a fee in front of the VfB Fan-Center and VfB Club Centre. The area around the ground does become very busy on matchday however so arrive early and don't be in a hurry to get away at full-time. 
You can park up on the other side of the Neckar River (e.g along Ulmer Straße) and walk to the ground from there - although many others will have the same idea on matchday and so it's best to arrive as early as you can. There's also a Park & Ride scheme in operation and you'll find 'P+R' car parks (€1-2 per day) at the Plochingen, Waiblingen, Gärringen and Leinfelden S-Bahn stations.


PUBLIC TRANSPORT:
Match tickets can be used to travel to and from the Mercedes Benz Arena anywhere on the excellent Verkehrs und Tarifverbund Stuttgart (VVS) transport network from three hours before the match until 5am the following day and you have three different options for getting to the Arena.
First of all - travelling by S-Bahn which most VfB fans will tell you is the quickest option. Take the S1 (Direction: Kirchheim or Plochingen), S2 (Direction: Schorndorf) or S3 (Direction: Backnang) lines from the centre of Stuttgart and jump out at Bad Cannstatt to join to fans gathering outside the station for a beer and a bratwurst before making the 30 minute walk to the stadium. If you're one of those anxious types however who just have to get to a ground early doors, then Neckarpark is the next stop after Bad Cannstatt on the S1 line.
If you choose to go by U-Bahn, U1 and the special match-day service U11 run from the city centre to Neckarpark. Line U13 skirts the city centre and makes the run to Bad Cannstatt Wilhelmsplatz and you can either hop on the U19 (Direction: NeckarPark Stadion) from here or take the half hour walk along the banks of the Neckar River to the stadium.

Bus travel isn't forgotten either and after you've had your fill of beer and bratwurst outside Bad Cannstatt station, Bus 56 takes 10 minutes from here to reach the Arena. 

WALKING DIRECTIONS:

It's a hike - let's get that out of the way, but if you're feeling energetic and have an hour and a bit to spare, then from the main station, turn left and walk along Arnulf Klett Platz. Turn left through Schlossgarten towards the River Neckar keeping the rail tracks on your left. Keeping to the right of the park, cross under the B14 autobahn at the Neckartor U-Bahn station. Emerge onto Neckarstraße and follow this road for half a mile before going right onto Hackstraße. Head along Hackstraße past the Karl Olga Krankenhaus and Raitelsberg U-Bahn Stations until it becomes Rotenbergstraße. Just past the Schlachthof U-Bahn Station, turn left onto Talstraße and follow it as it crosses over the B14 autobahn and the River Neckar, and you should be able to see the stadium. When you reach the T-junction with Mercedesstraße, turn right and the ground is almost immediately on your left hand side.


BIKE DIRECTIONS:
An increasingly popular way of travelling to the match in eco-friendly Germany is by bike, and VfB Stuttgart are no different in encouraging you to 'do your bit' for the environment and improve your health in the process. The club recommends the Neckartal Cycle Path which leads directly past the stadium and more information can be found
here. There are also 300 free and secure bike parking spaces available in Car Park P5 of the Daimler offices a 10 minute walk (or a two minute bike ride!) past the stadium and under the B14 flyover along Mercedesstraße. 

BOAT DIRECTIONS:
For a completely different way of getting to the football, you can hop on a boat and stand on the deck shouting "Auf Gehts die Schwarben!" whilst everyone else is stuck in the traffic snarl. More information can be found here.

 FAN SHOP, MUSEUM & STADIUM TOURS 

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FAN SHOP:

There's a large fan shop called the VfB Fan-Center at the ground (right next to the Hilton Garden Inn) selling all your Die Roten souvenirs and match tickets (9am-6pm, Mon-Fri; 10am-3pm, Sat; 3.5 hours before kick-off and for one hour after full-time on matchdays). 

There are also branches at :
Fan Shop Breuningerland (Heinkelstraße 1 71634 Ludwigsburg; 10am-8pm, Mon-Sat).
Tourist Information at Stuttgart Airport (Terminal 3, 70629 Stuttgart; 9am-5pm, Mon-Fri)
*+

VfB City Shop Tourist Information (Königstraße 1a 70173 Stuttgart; 10am-6pm, Mon-Sat; 10am-4pm, Sun) *+
* Only a small, selected merchandising assortment is on offer here and no shirt printing is available.
+ Currently Closed


STADIUM TOURS:

A number of different tours are conducted including one that including a VR 360° Arena Tour and a tour that takes you behind the scenes on a match day. Information about them all and how to book can be found here.

 FOOD & DRINK OPTIONS 

Apart from those servicing the pre-match party outside Bad Cannstatt station, the usual mobile vendors pop up along Mercedesstraße to feed and water the crowds on matchday and there are also a number of sports bars up the steps between the Porsche Museum and the ground itself, although these were rammed on our visit. Inside the ground, kiosks serve pizza, bratwurst, pretzels, beer and soft drinks, all of which can be paid for with cash - no faffing around with stadium cards here !

OTHER CLUBS IN THE AREA

BUNDESLIGA: SC Freiburg, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

BUNDESLIGA 2: 1.FC Heidenheim 1846, Karlsruher SC, SV Sandhausen

3.LIGA:
 SC Freiburg II