Pep Guardiola’s men are yet to bag a competitive win this year and will expect to rediscover their triumphant touch against the relegation strugglers
Still searching for their first competitive win of 2015, Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich travel to Stuttgart on Saturday.
A 4-1 defeat at second-placed Wolfsburg was a wake-up call for Pep Guardiola’s leaders after the mid-season break and they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Schalke on Tuesday.
Bayern were reduced to 10 men after just 17 minutes when Jerome Boateng fouled Sidney Sam inside the area, but Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting saw his resulting penalty saved by Manuel Neuer.
The champions then took the lead through Arjen Robben midway through the second half before Benedikt Howedes levelled for Schalke, as they took a point from their trip to the Allianz Arena.
The nature of the match and the fact Bayern played for so long with 10 men put a gloss on the result, but the Bavarian giants are used to success and lots of it – putting the importance of this clash at a premium.
And Bayern should find it far easier against a Stuttgart side who sit 16th, in the relegation play-off spot – but only on goal difference.
Hertha Berlin are just one goal behind them, with the 2007 Bundesliga champions only having won four matches this season. Of those wins, three came on the road – just one of many statistics that point to a Bayern win.
“Against Schalke we were better than in the game against Wolfsburg,” Bayern midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger told the club’s official website. “We had more control and never let them get at us on the break.
“But we’re not happy with a 1-1 draw. We’ll go to Stuttgart now looking for a victory.”
Bayern have won their last 12 clashes against Stuttgart, scoring 35 goals in the process. Mario Gotze and Franck Ribery scored in Bayern’s 2-0 home win in September.
Stuttgart’s last win against Bayern came in March 2010, a season in which the Bavarian giants claimed the title.
Bayern’s ultimately successful Bundesliga bid was harmed, though, by a 2-1 home loss in which Christian Trasch and Ciprian Marica scored to cap a come-from-behind win.
Stuttgart have failed to score since returning from the break, following up a 1-0 home loss to Borussia Monchengladbach with a goalless draw at Cologne on Wednesday.
With just 20 goals, they are the league’s fourth-lowest scorers, but Austrian Martin Harnik has enjoyed a decent season with five goals. Timo Werner, aged just 18, has also shown promise with three strikes.
But it pales into insignificance when compared with Bayern, who have hit 43 this term: winger Robben has 11, while Gotze, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller have bagged seven goals each.
And it is Bayern’s even spread of contributors that makes them so tough to stop – as Stuttgart may well find out.