Preview: Qabala v Mainz

1. FSV Mainz 05 face a potentially tough away tie against Azerbaijan Premier League side Qabala at the Bakcell Arena on Thursday in Group C of the Europa League.

Die Nullfunfer have been solid in the Bundesliga, although a recent last-minute defeat to Bayer Leverkusen has seemingly dented their confidence.

Martin Schmidt's men are also looking for a good result in Azerbaijan as the Mountain Wolf only picked up a point in their opening group clash against Saint-Etienne.

They could face a stiff test in Baku as Qabala have picked up five wins in their opening six league matches, while scoring 17 goals and not conceding any. The hosts also need a result after they lost 3-1 to Anderlecht last time out.

In addition, French forward Bagaliy Dabo is in prolific form, having hit six goals in three starts for Roman Hryhorchuk's team. With that said, Yunus Malli and Pablo De Blasis are hitting the back of the net regularly for the visitors – the pair have netted six times collectively in 10 appearances.

Nonetheless, Schmidt remains optimistic that Mainz can bounce back from the demoralising defeat against Leverkusen with a competitive showing against Qabala.

He told the club's official website: "Everyone's fired up for the game. With Suat Serder and Jose Rodriguez I have two fresh defensive midfielders at my disposal, the same goes for Yoshinori Muto in attacking midfield. Niko Bungert is again also ready to play.

"We want to and can make up for the long journey by getting a positive result. Wins inspire and aid recovery. We know a lot about them. In their league, they are a different side compared to in Europe. They're the Bayern Munich of their own league."

Meanwhile, both clubs are at virtually full strength, with Leon Balogun a notable exception for Mainz – the defender is ruled out with a muscle strain.

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