Two years ago Stuttgart did a nice little number on our coefficient by losing five games in the group stages. It looks like they are going to try and repeat that damage to our coefficient again this time around after an uninspiring home draw to Rangers. Unable to take advantage of the absence of Rangers’ captain David Weir, ruled out late, the Swabians enjoyed the better first half but could only must one goal from Progrebnyak. The second half they were thoroughly outplayed by a Rangers side that could barely afford the airfare let alone to strengthen their squad this year, and were probably lucky to escape with the point.
Rule number #1 that somebody, and I guess it needs to be me, needs to impress upon the Swabian heirarchy is that you win your effing home ties. Stuttgart, who are a team I have a lot of time for, are really going to get my vote for “NEVER AGAIN” if they don’t get it together. I don’t mean to be a curmudgeon here, but we can’t afford for Stuttgart to embarrass themselves again, not when we are on the cusp of getting 3rd in the UEFA Coefficient Ranking.
Two years ago they lost both games to Rangers, so some might say that this is an improvement. However, two years ago, the SPL wasn’t a league ready to drop into Nordic levels of importance in Europe. That Rangers side at least went on to challenge for the UEFA Cup. This Rangers side will be lucky to get games 7 and 8 in Europe come the new year. Well unless Stuttgart replicate their pathetic showing of two years ago, where they only beat Lyon after they had secured knock-out stage football.
And just so we all know, Hamburg embarrassed themselves and us with the same 5 loses in the group stages the year before Stuttgart, but at least they gained back some coefficient points with a semi-run in the UEFA Cup last year. I don’t expect Stuttgart to make the semi-finals, but a third place finish is the minimum. So they need to start winning games to pay us back for ’07.
We are very close to stealing a 3rd spot from Italy in the Champions League, which means a fourth team and three automatic slots. And its all riding on Stuttgart after Wolfsburg and Bayern showed that they are ready for a knock-out stage visit.
Or maybe the Champions League just comes at a bad time for the Swabians. If they played the competition exclusively in April and May, they might be aiming for their third straight title. But it’s played NOW, so get it together Babbel!