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Professionals, 14. September 2023

“We’ll have to hold our own for a long time”

Sebastian Hoeneß previews VfB Stuttgart’s Matchday 4 clash with FSV Mainz 05 at 15:30 CEST on Saturday.

Sebastian Hoeneß will still have to make do without Josha Vagnoman, Nikolas Nartey and Laurin when VfB Stuttgart travel to FSV Mainz 05 on Saturday. Thomas Kastanaras is also sidelined with a muscle problem, but all international players apart from Wooyeong Jeong have returned to Bad Cannstatt with their fitness intact. “It’s good that everyone has returned unscathed from international duty – even though they had a lot of game time,” Hoeneß said at Thursday’s pre-match press conference.

There was further good news on the personnel front, with Deniz Undav in contention for the matchday squad after recovering from a knee injury. “If he maintains his current level in training, he’ll be available,” confirmed the VfB boss.

In Mainz, Hoeneß is expecting to face a very tough opponent this weekend. “High-intensity, powerful football – that’s what sets Mainz apart and that’s what they’re committed to,” added Hoeneß. “They go into plenty of challenges, defend high up the pitch and work hard to prevent us from playing our game – stopping that will be key. Our last game in Mainz wasn’t that long ago – we were under a lot of pressure before settling into the game. We’ll once again need to hold our own for a long time and treat their style with 100 per cent respect.”

Chris Führich was not only on target in VfB’s last meeting with Mainz – the 25-year-old also scored twice against SC Freiburg in their most recent league encounter before the international break. “Chris has shown where his strengths lie,” Hoeneß continued. “He can threaten from the right and get his shot off, but he can also operate on the left, bring a cross in or get a shot away himself. Those are things we’ve been working hard on.

“I’m expecting him to show ambition. He needs to make decisions, take on responsibility and show a healthy degree of selfishness. We have players who are capable of being a major goal threat. It’s about goals at the end of the day, and threatening in front of goal is important to achieve results.”