Date: 11th August 2012 at 7:50pm
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Swansea City came back from 2-0 down to draw 3-3 at home against a strong Stuttgart side.

It was Michael Laudrup’s final chance to see his side in action before the season starts in 7 days time, but he wouldn’t have been too happy with what he saw in the first 45 minutes.

Defensively, the Swans looked vulnerable and easy to break down, as the visitors created the better chances early on. Stuttgart’s first saw Gentner net from close range, with an overhead kick as the home defence failed to clear a free kick. The visitor’s second came after even worse defending. Standing like cardboard cutouts, the German side easily found their way through before Ibisevic beat Vorm with a low shot that went in off the post.

Michael Laudrup named a strong starting eleven for today’s friendly, one that is unlikely to be much different to the one that will face QPR at Loftus Road next Saturday. 

Neil Taylor and Scott Sinclair returned from Olympic duty for their first Summer game in a Swansea City shirt, as Wayne Routledge and Ben Davies joined future loan signing Itay Shechter on the subs bench.

Just over 9,000 fans enjoyed the Swansea sunshine at today’s game, around 500 more than the 8,600 that watched Laudrup’s team beat Blackpool 4-2 on Tuesday night.

Stuttgart dominated and dictated the game in the opening 45 minutes, and it said it all when the 20-30 visiting fans from Germany could easily be heard amongst a silent home crowd. 

Compared to the Swans, Stuttgart looked like they had already started their League season, as they looked sharp and accurate in possession. Amongst Swansea’s three new signings – which all started today, it was centre back Chico who was by far the busiest, as he had plenty of work to do. He looked solid for the best part of the half, as used his height to his advantage in the aerial challenges, but he was, along with a number of other players, guilty of backing off and giving space to the opposition to allow them to double the lead rather easily.

The Swans meanwhile struggled to force the visiting goalkeeper to make a decent save, as Scott Sinclair went close but his curling shot went just over the crossbar.

HALF TIME: Swansea City 0-2 Stuttgart

Thankfully, the Swans showed a big improvement in the second half, as evidently, Laudrup had words to say to his players in the half time break. They picked up their game, and began to enjoy more possession as they prevously struggled to dominate the middle third as they’d become so accustomed to last season.

After the visitors went close to making it 3-0 early in the second half, Michu helped us get back into the game. He stole the ball in the middle of the pitch, and while Stuttgart complained he had committed a foul, he raced clear into space, before playing Graham through on goal and he calmly slotted it past the goalkeeper to score his fifth Summer goal.

After Swansea City’s first goal of the game, Stuttgart made five changes and you then had a feeling that along with the confidence boost of our opener, we could get back into the game and level the scores – and we did.

Laudrup made two changes before the equaliser. Sinclair and loanee de Guzman made way for Wayne Routledge and Kemy Agustien. The Dutchman still looked like he needs to gain a bit more fitness and match sharpness, while Routledge looked impressive down the left flank, beating a few players with his skill and pace to create an attack.

The host’s equaliser came thanks to the lineman’s superior judgement over the referee. Dyer went through on goal but he was clearly brought down. The referee ignored our claims for a spot kick, but he brought play back when he saw the linesman wave for a penalty. Graham again found the net with a low shot to level the scores at 2-2.

After Shechter came on to replace Michu, Dyer put the Swans into the lead when his shot from the right side of the pitch deflected off a Stuttgart player and into the net, leaving the goalkeeper helpless in trying to keep it out.

Two minutes later, and the Swans fans witnessed a Shefki Kuqi moment, as Dyer really should have made it 4-2. After rounding the goalkeeper, an open net waited to be met by the ball but he fired it wide of the target – much to the amazement of everyone in the Liberty Stadium.

With a goal missed at one end, one was scored at the other as Stuttgart made it 3-3. After good build up play, Holzhauser slotted the ball past Vorm with a low shot with 10 minutes remaining.

Stuttgart certainly provided Swansea City with a good tough test ahead of the new Premier League season. They pressed the Swans well throughout and made it difficult for us to dictate play in midfield – particularly in the first half. Their slick attacking play exposed holes in the Swans defence that need to be sorted before the season starts, but  friendlies are hardly a good indictor to what we can expect from Laudrup’s team in 2012/2013. There’s another week of useful training where the manager will surely look to iron out some of the weaknesses shown in today’s performance. 

Swansea: Michel Vorm (GK), Angel Rangel, Chico Flores, Ashley Williams, Neil Taylor, Leon Britton, Jonathan de Guzman (Kemy Agustien, 61), Michu (Etey Schechter, 72), Nathan Dyer, Danny Graham (Mark Gower, 80), Scott Sinclair (Wayne Routledge, 61). 

Subs: Gerhard Tremmel, Alan Tate, Jazz Richards, Ben Davies, Kemy Agustien, Mark Gower, Wayne Routledge, Itey Sheckter, Luke Moore. 

Stuttgart: Sven Ulreich (GK), William Kvist (Georg Niedermeier, 60), Serdar Tasci (Cristian Molinaro, 60), Martin Harnik (Raphael Holzhauser, 77), Vedad Ibisevic (Kevin Stoger, 78), Maza, Arthur Etienne Boka (Mamadou Bah, 60), Ibrahima Traore (Zdravko Kuzmanovic, 60), Tunay Torun, Christian Gentner (Shinji Okazaki, 60), Tim Hoogland (Antonio Rudiger, 77). 

Subs: Georg Niedermeier, Zdravko Kuzmanovic, Mamadou Bah, Cacau, Kevin Stoger, Cristian Molinaro, Marc Ziegler, Antonio Rudiger, Raphael Holzhauser, Shinji Okazaki