Ahead of Friday night’s Bundesliga clash, GGFN’s Jon Mackenzie previews the clash between Mainz and Bayern at the Coface Arena.
This season has been a little Jekyl and Hyde for Mainz. Whilst their away form has left a lot to be desired, Die Nullfünfer have not lost at home in the league since they conceded a late goal to Bayer Leverkusen in September, losing 2-3 in the process. In the wake of their 2-1 defeat in Berlin at the weekend, Mainz will be hoping to continue their strong home form with a good performance against a Bayern who are far from their imperious best. This notwithstanding, a good performance might not be enough for Mainz who have lost their last 4 matches at home to Bayern in all competitions. Mainz manager, Martin Schmidt, experimented with a 5-4-1 formation against Bayern last season which proved relatively successful. Mainz could, therefore, start with a back-five here to strengthen the middle and try to hit Bayern on the break.
November has been a struggle for the league champions, Bayern. Until their win over Leverkusen at the weekend, the only win they had managed in the month came in a Champions League fixture. A draw to Hoffenheim, a loss to rivals Dortmund and an unexpected capitulation to Rostov in the Champions League and Bayern were toppled from the top of the Bundesliga and prevented from finishing top of their group in Europe. With the 2-1 win at home to Leverkusen on Saturday, Die Roten will hope to have put paid to their recent stutter. The cracks have begun to appear for Bayern though: in recent weeks, they have ceded possession too often, gifting oppositions with more chances than they might have hoped. Coming up against a buoyant Mainz in the Coface Arena, they will need to become dominant in possession once again and prevent their opponents from catching them out of position.
If Martin Schmidt does adopt a formation with five at the back, it will allow Stafan Bell to segue back into the team immediately following his recent suspension. Daniel Brosinski joins Bell, coming back from a one-match ban, and offers Mainz a strong option in either wing-back position. It is likely that, should Mainz elect to play a lone striker, they will start with Yunus Malli, leaving Jhon Córdoba as a possible substitute to come on from the bench in the second half.
Carlos Ancelotti is nearing his full complement of centre-backs: Javi Martinez has been declared fully fit and will hope to challenge Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels for a place on the team. The difficult decision to be made is who to play in the central three for Bayern—should it be the experienced Arturo Vidal or the in-form youngster Joshua Kimmich? Both Arjen Robben and Douglas Costa have returned to full training and would hope to make an appearance from the bench in this match.
Prediction: Mainz 1-3 Bayern Munich
Expect Bayern to dominate the game from the outset. Where November was disappointing for them, the league champions will be treating this December as a chance to reset and retain their place at the top of the league. Should Mainz cause them trouble, the gap between Bayern and RB Leipzig will threaten to widen. It is likely that Bayern will treat the game with utmost seriousness, then, and it is hard to see them coming out as anything but victors.
Mainz 05: Lössl; Donati, Bell, Bungert, Balogun, Bussmann; Öztunali, Frei, Ramalho, Samperio; Malli.
Bayern Munich: Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Hummels, Alaba; Vidal, Alonso, Thiago; Müller, Lewandowski, Ribéry.
Where to Watch:
The game kicks off at 20:30 CET/19:30 GMT on December 2nd. The game is live on BT Sport 3 or, if you are watching in America, you can catch the game on FOX Sports USA 2.