Preview | Mainz vs Bayern Munich: Will the DFB Pokal provide a welcome distraction for Bayern?

It’s not been the start to 2023 that Bayern Munich or Julian Nagelsmann would have expected. Without a win and having drawn the last three matches, Bayern are in danger of letting losing grip on 1st place in the Bundesliga. However, attention turns to the DFB Pokal this Wednesday. A victory away at Mainz 05 could provide as the catalyst to get their season back on track. However, a loss here could further deepen the club’s worries. 

Having drawn their last three matches 1-1, Julian Nagelsmann’s side are struggling to score and keep teams at bay. For Mainz, there possibly isn’t a better time to play them in front of a home crowd. Despite another tough test on the road against VfL Wolfsburg on Sunday, Bayern can’t afford any slip-ups here. They haven’t won the DFB Pokal since 2019/20 and another game without win a could lead people to question the coach’s tenure at the club. In fact, only one Bayern head coach since 2011 has had a poorer points-per-game ratio in the Bundesliga than Nagelsmann this season.

Nagelsmann may see this as a good opportunity for new signing João Cancelo to start since signing from Manchester City this week. Others such as Thomas Müller, Ryan Gravenberch, and Mathys Tel may also start. Should they put in a good performance and win on Wednesday evening, it will give Nagelsmann a tough decision to make for the next game. 

Mainz have had a mixed start to 2023 winning, drawing, and losing one game each. Last weekend, Bo Svensson’s side brushed aside VfL Bochum 5-2 and are now looking reasonably healthy in 11th position. 

Expect Mainz to give Bayern a game here. They may not make many changes themselves as they sense a real opportunity to cause an upset in the cup. Svensson can also take inspiration from FC Köln and Steffen Baumgart who came within seconds of beating Bayern at the Allianz Arena. That night the billy goats played 4-2-3-1, similar to Svensson’s setup with Mainz. If the likes of Lee Jae-sung, Karim Onisiwo, and Ludovic Ajorque can perform to their best, don’t be surprised to see a cup upset at the MEWA Arena. 

GGFN | Jamie Allen

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