Borussia Dortmund will be hoping for an upturn of fortunes back at home when they host 1.FSV Mainz 05 on Saturday.

After being on the end of an embarrassing 5-0 battering by league leaders Bayern Munich last weekend, Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre will be demanding a swift response as they host 1.FSV Mainz at the Signal Iduna Park on Saturday.

Dortmund are trailing Bayern only by two points, despite the heavy defeat in their last game. That means the Black and Yellows will have the opportunity to pip the Bavarians, who will be facing a tricky test against Fortuna Dusseldorf on Sunday.

Mainz, on the other hand, have been one of the most disappointing teams in the Bundesliga for the past couple of months. The Carnival outfit have lost six out of their last eight matches in the league, during which they have conceded as many as 23 goals.

This could be a problem against Dortmund side, whose tally of 66 goals is only bettered by league leaders Bayern(74). However, the 05-ers are coming on the back of a healthy 5-0 win over SC Freiburg – a victory which helped them get out of the relegation scrap for the time being.

And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will take a look at both the sides ahead of their crucial encounter in the Bundesliga this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Borussia Dortmund

Star striker Paco Alcacer is still nursing an arm injury, which rules him out of the match on Saturday along with Raphael Guerreiro, who is also unlikely to feature against Mainz.

DORTMUND, GERMANY - MARCH 09: Paco Alcacer of Dortmund is seen during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and VfB Stuttgart at Signal Iduna Park on March 09, 2019 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Dortmund will continue to miss out on Paco Alcacer. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Therefore, Jacob-Bruun Larsen will retain his place in the attack, alongside Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus, who will revert back to his customary attacking midfield role. Both Christian Pulisic and Maximillian Philipp, however, will continue their spell on the sidelines.

Mario Gotze, on the other hand, could return to the starting lineup after starting on the bench against Bayern. The German international will spearhead the Dortmund attack in the absence of Alcacer.

In defence, Favre could make one or two alternations, especially after a dismal performance last weekend. Dan-Axel Zagadou will be relegated to the bench and the young Frenchman is likely to make way for Julian Weigl, who will be partnered by Manuel Akanji at the heart of the Dortmund defence.

Lukasz Piszczek could be rested, thus making way for Marius Wolf in the right-back position while Abdou Diallo will retain his place on the opposite flank.

Elsewhere, Axel Witsel is a guaranteed starter at the base of Dortmund’s 4-2-3-1. The Belgian international will be partnered by Thomas Delaney, who is struggling with form and will be desperate to impress against Mainz.

Probable Lineup(4-2-3-1): Burki; Wolf, Akanji, Weigl, Diallo; Witsel, Delaney; Sancho, Reus, Bruun Larsen; Gotze.

1.FSV Mainz 05

One could hardly expect Mainz head coach Sandro Schwarz to make any significant changes to the side, which secured an impressive 5-0 win over Freiburg in the last game.

MAINZ, GERMANY - APRIL 05: FSV Mainz Head Coach, Sandro Schwarz during the Bundesliga match between 1. FSV Mainz 05 and Sport-Club Freiburg at Opel Arena on April 05, 2019 in Mainz, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Can Sandro Schward mastermind an upset this weekend? (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

However, the 40-year-old could opt for Daniel Brosinski ahead of Giulio Donati in the right-back slot even though the Italian started in the win over Freiburg. Brosinski will keep a close eye on the enigmatic Bruun Larsen while Aaron Martin, on the opposite flank, will look to use his technical qualities to create chances for his team out wide.

Alexander Hack is expected to replace Niko Bungert, who was subbed off in the last match, at the heart of Mainz’s four-man backline. He will be partnered by the ever-present figure of Moussa Niakhate, whose physical prowess and commitment will be key in dealing with Reus and Co. this weekend.

Pierre Kunde, on the other hand, will sit as the holding midfielder, looking to provide additional defensive cover for the backline. The Cameroonian will be partnered by Jean-Philipe Gbamin and Danny Latza, both of who will operate in a slightly advanced midfield role.

Jean-Paul Boetius is expected to operate as the lone attacking midfielder, just behind the two central strikers in Robin Quaison and Jean-Philippe Mateta.

Probable Lineup(4-3-1-2): Muller; Brosinski, Hack, Niakhate, Martin; Gbamin, Kunde, Latza; Boetius; Quaison, Mateta.

Key Stats

  • Borussia Dortmund have fewer points than Bayern Munich for the first time since Matchday 5.
  • Borussia Dortmund’s 5-0 defeat to Bayern was the heaviest defeat suffered by a league leader this century.
  • Mainz only have a lower points-per-game average against Bayern Munich(0.58) than they have against Dortmund(0.76).
  • The Black and Yellows have also won six of their last eight meetings with Mainz.
  • The 2-1 defeat to Mainz last season was Dortmund’s first home defeat against the 05-ers in club’s history.

Player to Watch

Jean-Philippe Mateta

MAINZ, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 23: Jean-Philippe Mateta of FSV Mainz celebrates at the final whistle during the Bundesliga match between 1. FSV Mainz 05 and FC Schalke 04 at Opel Arena on February 23, 2019 in Mainz, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The man in form. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Mainz’s talismanic striker Jean-Philippe Mateta is by far the most in-form player coming into the fixture. The Frenchman scored a hat-trick in the 5-0 win over Freiburg and has also been club’s top scorer this season with ten goals.

Therefore, Dortmund will certainly need to wary of his presence in the final third if they are to continue their excellent record at home this season. They will also need to keep tabs on Jean-Paul Boetius’ whose combination play with the Frenchman has been quite impressive, of late.

Mateta’s willingness to test the ‘keeper at every given opportunity coupled with his aerial prowess are tailor-made for a counter-attacking approach that Mainz are likely to employ against Dortmund, making him the player to look out for in this fixture.

Prediction

Borussia Dortmund 2-1 1.FSV Mainz 05

Mainz gave Dortmund quite a run for their money in the reverse fixture earlier this season and we expect a similar cagey affair when these two teams meet at the Signal Iduna Park on Saturday. Thus, we would predict a similar result, with the hosts getting away with a narrow win.