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VfB Stuttgart

VfB Stuttgart

Verein für Bewegungsspiele Stuttgart 1893 e. V. is a German sports club from the city of Stuttgart in Baden-Württemberg.

Its men’s football team features in the 1.Bundesliga, the highest league in the country. Stuttgart is one of the most successful clubs of Germany with 5 national championships, 3 DFB-Pokals and 3 Intertoto Cups.

With 72,000 members, VfB Stuttgart is the largest sports club in Baden-Württemberg and the 8th largest football club in Germany. Its sports departments include fistball, field hockey, track and field and table tennis, all at the amateur level. The football team plays its home-games at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Neckarpark.

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VfB Stuttgart was formed through a merger between two clubs, Stuttgarter FV and Kronen-Club Cannstatt. Both the clubs consisted of school pupils from the middle-class section which had learned various sports such as rugby union and association football from English expatriates.

Stuttgarter Fußballverein was founded on 9th September 1893. It was a rugby union club initially and the association football was added in 1908. It joined the South German Football Association the following year and joined into regional 2nd tier B-Klasse before earning promotion to Südkreis-Liga in 1912.

Cannstatter Fußballklub also started off as a rugby club in 1890 before establishing a football team. It dissolved in a few years and reorganised exclusively as a football club FC Krone-Cannstatt. It also joined the South German Football Association and played in the 2nd division before earning promotion in 1904.

The Early Decades

On 2nd April 1912, Stuttgarter FV and FC Krone Cannstatt merged together to form VfB Stuttgart 1893. The combined side first played in Kreisliga Württemberg, the highest league in the state before it was replaced by Bezirksliga in 1923. Vfb won 2 division titles in this period along with 5 other top-3 finishes.

In 1933, VfB Stuttgart moved into the Neckarstadion and that same year the Nazi Party took power in Germany. Under the Third Reich, the top-division was separated into 16 regional leagues in the Gauligen structure. VfB Stuttgart therefore became a part of the Gauliga Württemberg and enjoyed considerable success in this period.

VfB Stuttgart won the Gauliga Württemberg in the 1934/35, 1936/37, 1937/38 and 1942/43 seasons while finishing as the runners-up on 4 occasions as well. The Gauliga titles earned qualification to the national championships where its best performance came in 1934/35 when it lost 4-6 in the final to FC Schalke 04.

The Post-War Era

After the end of World War II, the Oberligen became the new top-division in Germany. VfB Stuttgart won the inaugural season of Oberliga Süd in 1945/46. The club finished as the runners-up in 1949/50 but went on to lift its maiden West German championship by defeating Kickers Offenbach 2-1 in the final at Olympiastadion in Berlin.

Stuttgart won the Oberliga Süd division once again in 1951/52 and clinched the West German championship for the 2nd time, defeating FC Saarbrücken 3-2 in the final at Ludwigshafen. The following season it lost 1-4 in the final to 1.FC Kaiserslautern before winning the Oberliga Süd in 1953/54.

In the 1953/54 season, VfB Stuttgart also claimed its first DFB-Pokal with a 1-0 extra-time victory over 1.FC Köln. Another runners-up spot in Oberliga Süd was achieved in 1955/56 and two years later the club picked up its 2nd DFB-Pokal title by defeating TuS Fortuna Düsseldorf 4-3 after extra time in the final.

Stuttgart could not claim any further honours but remained in the top-half of Oberliga Süd until its conclusion in the 1962/63 season. Due to its consistent performance over the past decade Stuttgart claimed one of the 16 spots in the new nationwide top-tier and thus became an original member of the Bundesliga.

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The Bundesliga Journey

The well-known Swabian austerity remained part of the club and VfB Stuttgart was still an amateur organisation. It did not spend much money and most of its players were still semi-professional and worked in day-jobs for a living. Nevertheless, it was able to stay in the Bundesliga side as a regular mid-table team.

VfB Stuttgart played in the UEFA Cup for the first time in the 1973/74 season and reached the semi-finals of the tournament, losing out to eventual winners Feyenoord Rotterdam. However in 1974/75 the club finished on 16th place in the Bundesliga and was relegated into the 2nd division.

The 1975/76 campaign is regarded as the worst in its history as Stuttgart ended in 11th spot in 2.Bundesliga South. The club now had a professional bearing and assembled a new team for the 1976/77 season, which set numerous records for the division and earned promotion back to 1.Bundesliga after a 2-year absence.

In 1977/78, Stuttgart finished the 1.Bundesliga in 4th place with an average-attendance of 53,000 in its home-games, setting a new league-record which stood in place until the 1990’s. In 1978/79, the club lost out the league-title to Hamburger SV by a single point and ended as runners-up in Bundesliga for the first time.

VfB Stuttgart remained a top-4 side in the 1.Bundesliga for much of the early 1980’s. At the end of the 1983/84 season, it was tied with Hamburger SV and Borussia VfL Mönchengladbach on 48 points. Finally, Stuttgart bagged the league-title on superior goal-difference to claim its maiden Bundesliga crown.

But the club slid into a mid-table side once again until the end of the decade and enjoyed more success in the cup competitions. It lost 2-5 to FC Bayern in the 1984/85 DFB-Pokal final. In 1989/90, it reached the final of the UEFA Cup but went down 5-4 on aggregate to a SSC Napoli team led by Diego Maradona.

In the season following the reunification of Germany, Stuttgart became the unlikely winners of the 1991/92 1.Bundesliga campaign which contained 20 teams that season. VfB finished level on points with Borussia Dortmund after 38 matches but tipped the Westphalia side on goal-difference to win its 2nd Bundesliga title.

The team however, dropped into the mid-table in the subsequent years and did not pick up any silverware until it lifted the DFB-Pokal with a 2-0 win against Energie Cottbus. It qualified the club into next season’s UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup where it lost in the final to English side Chelsea FC.

The Present Era

At the start of the new millennium, VfB Stuttgart was hovering on the edge of the top-half with mounting debts and an ageing squad. Hence the team was overhauled with players from its renowned youth-system and it narrowly avoided the drop after ending the 2000/01 season in 15th position.

Felix Magath was named the new manager and Stuttgart finished the 2002/03 season as runners-up to Bayern München, albeit a distant 16 points behind the champions. The club took 4th position in 2003/04 but Magath brought his 3-year spell to an end and no manager has lasted that long since then.

Return to Glory

In 2004/05, Stuttgart took 5th place in 1.Bundesliga under Matthias Sammer who was replaced by Giovanni Trapattoni at the end of the campaign. But the veteran Italian manager was sacked and replaced by Armin Veh halfway through 2005/06 who led the side to 9th place finish.

For the 2006/07 season, Veh combined the Latin flair of Pável Pardo, Ricardio Osorio and Antônio da Silva with upcoming local stars Serdar Tasci, Sami Khedira and Mario Gómez. After a slow start, Stuttgart soon turned into a title-contender and even took the lead in 1.Bundesliga before the winter-break.

On the final day, Stuttgart bagged a 2-1 comeback-win over Energie Cottbus to clinch the 1.Bundesliga title and 250,000 people joined the team for its victory-parade. VfB also had a chance to complete the double but lost 3-2 after extra-time to 1.FC Nürnberg in the final.

VfB Stuttgart stayed in the top-6 of the Bundesliga for the next 3 years without launching a serious title-bid. In 2010/11, it dropped down to 12th position and was able to recover a 6th place in the following campaign. Yet the fortunes of the club gradually spiralled down in the subsequent decade.

Recent Decline

From 2012/13 to 2014/15, VfB could only manage to finish in the bottom-half of the league-table, dropping closer to the drop-zone with every passing season. In 2015/16, the hammer eventually dropped and it was directly relegated from 1.Bundesliga after ending the campaign in 17th position.

Since its first relegation from 1.Bundesliga, Stuttgart found itself back in the 2nd division after 40 years. However, the team made amends for the disastrous previous campaign and sealed an immediate promotion back to the top-tier by clinching the 2.Bundesliga title in 2016/17.

Back in 1.Bundesliga for the 2017/18 campaign, Stuttgart made an impressive return by taking 7th spot, its best league-finish in recent years. But it was followed by a 16th place finish in 2018/19 and the club lost 2-2 on aggregate to 1.FC Union Berlin in the playoff to get relegated from the top-tier.

Once again, Stuttgart earned an immediate promotion, this time by taking 2nd place in the 2019/20 2.Budnesliga. However it was not a smooth ride and the club changed managers twice before Pellegrino Matarazzo took charge and the American has stayed at the job till now.

VfB Stuttgart made a positive comeback to 1.Bundesliga by finishing the 2020/21 season in 9th position. But the latest 2021/22 campaign was far more challenging and the club needed a last-minute winner against 1.FC Köln on the final day to get a 15th place finish, barely avoiding the bottom-3 on goal-difference.

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