1. FSV Mainz 05 and Borussia Mönchengladbach couldn’t be separated after a 0-0 draw at the Opel Arena. The home side rallied late but couldn’t break the deadlock, ultimately happy to move level with Wolfsburg and six points clear of 1. FC Köln.
Sandro Schwarz made eight changes to the side that lost 3-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt with a new forward line consisting of Emil Berggreen flanked by Pablo De Blassis and Levin Öztunali. Dieter Hecking made three changes as he welcomed back Yannick Vestergaard, Cristoph Kramer and Raffael.
The visitors began by testing the home defence with long balls and created the first chance through that avenue, Vestergaard’s long ball releasing Patrick Hermann who found Raffael but the Brazilian dragged his effort wide.
Mainz started to get into the match through De Blasis and Daniel Brosinski but were not working as a unit off the ball, allowing Mönchengladbach easy passage out of their own half. Berggreen was getting into good positions but had little service as chances were hard to come by for both sides.
Danny Latza saw a difficult volley sail wide before the visitors countered through Raffael and Lars Stindl, the latter releasing Oscar Wendt whose shot was blocked.
Stefan Bell’s botched clearance almost resulted in disaster, Thorgan Hazard’s cross eventually finding Stindl who saw his shot blocked by Hack before Gbamin beat him to the rebound. It appeared to be a decent penalty claim but Mönchengladbach’s protests went unanswered.
The second half began with Mainz in control looking for an early goal. De Blasis’s shot was saved by Sommer which began a period of sustained pressure for the home side, Latza heading wide before Gbamin’s free kick was straight at Sommer.
Hazard broke into the box with Brosinski making an important clearance before Josip Drmic replaced Raffael. Mainz fashioned their best chance of the game shortly after as Brosinski’s corner was met by Alexander Hack, but his header was ‘saved’ by Sommer onto the underside of the crossbar before falling safely to the grateful goalkeeper.
Nico Elvedi picked up an injury in the aftermath and was soon replaced by Florian Meyer. Adler then made a good save from Stindl’s shot and Oscar Wendt had his shot blocked by Donati as the game heated up.
Levin Öztunali had a difficult evening and was replaced by Robin Quaison before Suat Serdar made way for Gerrit Holtmann. Holtmann could have been the hero not long after with a long run down the left wing brought him into the box, but with an apparent shot on he decided to lay off to Berggreen whose shot was blocked.
Herrmann was denied by a good save by Adler before a hectic period of injury time. Anthony Ujah replaced Berggreen and almost managed to throw everything away in a matter of minutes. His suicidal back pass was intercepted by Herrmann but fortunately Adler came out and did just enough to prevent a horror goal.
Schwarz won’t be too unhappy with a point after the weekend results and Mainz’ recent form. Making eight changes was a big statement but his side stuck to task this evening and with a bit of luck could have taken all three points. Jean-Philippe Gbamin was a clear standout and looks much better in a defensive midfield position compared to central defence.
Daniel Brosinski and Suat Serdar were dangerous and De Blasis improved in the second half but Öztunali appears very short on confidence. The right winger got himself into many dangerous positions but poor decision making and execution let him down. I thought Berggreen tried hard and with some better service might have provided more threat.
Hecking’s side draw for the third time in four games with European football looking further doubtful. It wasn’t happening up front this evening, Drmic came on for Raffael to provide a focal point up front but the visitors didn’t manage to sustain any pressure on the home goal.
By Matthew Marshall.