Struggling Mainz up against leaders Bayern next

Struggling 1. FSV Mainz 05 face the unenviable task of trying to stop runaway Bundesliga leaders FC Bayern München at home on Saturday.

3 February 2018
Match Day 21
Kick-off: 15:30 local time
Venue: Opel Arena

Referee: S. Storks
Assistants: T. Siewer, S. Waschitzki
Fourth official: T. Schiffner

Head-to-head summary:

Mainz 24 4 3 17
Bayern 24 17 3 4

Previous encounter:

Bayern Munich 4-0 Mainz 16/09/17 (Bundesliga)

Bayern goal scorers: T. Muller (11′), A. Robben (23′), R. Lewandowski (50′, 77′)

Players to watch:

Robert Lewandowski likes scoring against Mainz – the striker has found the net 13 times in his last 10 Bundesliga appearances against them. The Poland international has also netted three times in his last two matches.

Japanese international striker Yoshinori Muto has been Mainz’s go-to man in attack, the 25-year-old having netted six league goals and two in the cup this season. He’s also scored three times in his last three Bundesliga outings, including a brace in the 3-2 win over Stuttgart.

Team form and manager quotes:

Mainz head into the match just three points clear of the relegation zone, having suffered a 2-0 loss at Bayer Leverkusen in their last game and with only one win in their last five outings.

Die Nullfunfer have also leaked 18 goals in their last nine Bundesliga games.

Manager Sandro Schwarz knows all too well what to expect from the defending champions this weekend.

“We don’t have to talk about the quality of Bayern, they are outstanding in all positions,” he said.

In their last 17 league fixtures, the Bavarians have lost just one and drawn two, winning 14. They are currently on a seven-game winning streak and scored nine goals in their last two outings.

Bayern enjoy a 16-point lead at the top of the standings, the biggest in history at the 20-match mark.

Manager Jupp Heynckes wants to ensure however that his men don’t take Saturday’s opponents lightly.

“I don’t think it’ll be an easy game,” Heynckes said.

“I watched the game against Stuttgart and the pitch wasn’t in a good condition. It won’t be easy on such a surface.

“That’s simply to do with the approach. Nothing more,” he added.

Team news:

The hosts have no new injury concerns and are expected to go for the same side that lost to Leverkusen, although new signing Anthony Ujah could be in line for a start up front in place of with Robin Quaison.

Ex-Germany goalkeeper Rene Adler may be back after recovering from a thigh injury he sustained last October.

Thiago Alcantara and Manuel Neuer remain sidelined for the visiting side and are joined by Arturo Vidal, while David Alaba is doubtful.

However, Sandro Wagner has been passed fit after an ankle injury scare earlier this week and George Hummels could return to the bench after an illness.