Dhe players of VfB Stuttgart were swallowed up within a few seconds. After a few seconds, a huge hidden object emerges in the Stuttgart Arena on Saturday afternoon, from which it is no longer possible to see where the VfB pros are.
The news came a little later in the changing room, everyone was able to flee from the crowd of fans running into the belly of the stadium, the fans standing on the grass below scream ecstatically, cheer and tear a piece of the grass out or the gate pole. The police security forces let the fans do it, it would have been pointless, there was no stopping them. On the last match day of the Bundesliga, VfB managed to stay in the class that was no longer thought possible.
With a goal from VfB captain Wataru Endo in the second minute of added time, Stuttgart won the last game of the season against 1. FC Köln 2-1 and thus secured another season in the top tier of German football almost at the last moment. Incidentally, with the friendly support of Borussia Dortmund, BVB also defeated Hertha BSC 2-1, so that Stuttgart’s Hertha could still be ousted from 15th place. “All’s well that ends well,” Endo said.
“We made it together”
“That’s good,” said VfB head coach Pellegrino Matarazzo afterwards on Sky. He added agitatedly: “It was ecstasy, a great moment, outstanding. I’m so happy for the boys. You never forget a moment like today.” Waldemar Anton was equally enthusiastic: “The fans believed in us to the end, we believed in us to the end. And we all managed to stay up in the league together.”
It was a crazy and successful end for VfB after a season full of injuries, bankruptcies, bad luck and breakdowns. The last game against Cologne could not have been more significant, in one game the players, managers and spectators experienced the changeable season again condensed to almost 97 minutes, it was a roller coaster ride of emotions, it went up and down, again and again.
In the first half alone, Matarazzo’s team missed chances for several games, the pros outdid each other in missing the best chances to score, it was a waste that was also extreme for VfB. It started in the 12th minute when Sasa Kalajdzic’s penalty was saved by Cologne goalkeeper Marvin Schwäbe. However, the Austrian did not have much time to mourn. He headed Chris Führich’s following corner over the line to make it 1-0.
VfB was the better team, the players ran, they combined and, above all, they created chances almost every minute. Best chances, mind you. Kalajdzic (21st), Endo (32nd), Konstantinos Mavropanos (35th) and Endo again could have given their teammates and their coach outside a much more relaxed afternoon. But when Tiago Tomas ran to Schwäbe on his own shortly before the break and missed, it was clear that this afternoon was going to be an even more exciting one.
Especially when Anthony Modeste equalized (59′), after a clownish mistake by VfB goalkeeper Florian Müller, who let a harmless shot by Florian Kainz slip through his hands when he wanted to catch the ball. When the news first came of Dortmund’s 1-1 draw in Stuttgart and later of the 2-1 lead, VfB had to score a goal themselves to outperform Hertha BSC. It had long since become wild kicking, the Stuttgarters no longer had anything like scoring chances. Except for a flick from substitute Omar Marmoush, which Schwäbe saved (83′).
But the fans in the stands wanted to transfer their optimism, enthusiasm and energy to the players on the pitch below. They wrote louder and louder, driving the team on. In the second minute of added time, she saved Endo, who headed the ball over the line after Hiroki Ito’s header extended. A season full of ups and downs finally ended with an unbelievable exhilaration. Matarazzo’s head was buzzing, but the American could live with that. “I have a skull after that shouting and cheering,” he confessed.