Borussia Dortmund will look to maintain their excellent run of form in December when they meet 1.FSV Mainz 05 at the Coface Arena on Saturday.
Borussia Dortmund have enjoyed a bright start to December, having won 5-0 against Fortuna Dusseldorf while sealing their qualification to the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League by sealing a 2-1 victory over Slavia Prague in midweek.
They will have a chance of closing the gap at the top of the Bundesliga table when they meet 1.FSV Mainz at the Coface Arena on Saturday. The Black and Yellows are currently third in the league table, with 26 points on the board – five behind league leaders Borussia Monchengladbach.
However, with the Foals facing a stern test against VfL Wolfsburg, they could be in an even more favourable position by the end of this weekend’s round of fixtures if they succeed to take all three points here.
Mainz, on the other hand, have been one of the most disappointing teams in the league so far. But, they have had a spring in their steps following the appointment of Achim Beierlorzer, who has won two of his three games in charge, including a 5-1 rout over TSG Hoffenheim in his first game.
Hence, they would remain a tricky opponent for Dortmund. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides before they lock horns at the Coface Arena this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
1.FSV Mainz 05
After a 2-1 defeat at the hands of FC Augsburg, coach Beierlorzer might be forced to make some changes in this encounter. He is expected to opt for a more defence-oriented approach against this mighty Dortmund attack.
Hence, we could see Daniel Brosinski coming in for Levin Oztunali in the right wing-back slot. Aaron Martin, meanwhile, is a guaranteed starter on the opposite flank.
In defence, Edimilson Fernandes could yet again be rewarded with a berth in the starting lineup, alongside Jeremiah St. Juste and Moussa Niakhate, thus forming the three-man defensive line for the hosts. These three players are expected to operate in a deep role, providing very little space for the Dortmund attackers.
In midfield, Ridle Baku is back in contention after serving a suspension. He could return in central midfield, at the expense of Leandro Barreiro Martins and is likely to be partnered by the Pierre-Kunde Malong. Unfortunately for the home side, trusted midfielder Danny Latza is out injured.
In attack, Jean-Paul Boetius is destined to operate in the lone number ten slot. The Dutchman will provide the main creative spark for a Mainz attack that could be led by top scorer Robin Quaison and Adam Szalai, who could deputise for Karim Onisiwo – a doubt heading into this fixture.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Zentner; Niakhate, St. Juste, Fernandes; Brosinski, Baku, Malong, Martin; Boetius; Szalai, Quaison
Lucien Favre has embraced a three-man backline, of late and could, therefore, persist with the 3-4-3 setup this weekend. This is largely due to the fact that both the key midfielders in Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney out injured, meaning Julian Weigl and Julian Brandt may once again do their duties in central midfield.
The defence could be led by Mats Hummels, who will be supported by the duo of Manuel Akanji and Leonardo Balerdi. The Argentine youngster has made substitute appearances in the last two games for Dortmund and is in line to make his first start for the club.
No changed are expected in the wide roles, with Achraf Hakimi and Raphael Guerreiro set to continue as wing-backs.
And finally, in attack, Paco Alcacer may get the nod ahead of Thorgan Hazard. The Spaniard could be starting for the first time since MD5 and is expected to lead the Dortmund attack. He could be partnered by Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho in the wider attacking roles.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Burki; Akanji, Hummels, Balerdi; Hakimi, Weigl, Brandt, Guerreiro; Sancho, Alcacer, Reus
- Dortmund have won seven of their last nine matches against Mainz, losing just once in this timeframe – a 2-1 defeat at home on MD33 in the 2017-18 campaign.
- Mainz have won just one of their last nine home matches against Dortmund: a 2-0 triumph in September 2014. BVB have won seven of the other eight matches, drawing only once.
- Dortmund have failed to score in just one of their last 18 matches against Mainz: a 2-0 defeat away in September 2014.
- Mainz have conceded a league-high 34 goals this season and alongside Werder, are one of the two sides yet to keep a clean sheet in the league so far.
- Mainz have let in more goals across their opening 14 matches of the 2019-20 campaign than they have before across the first half of a Bundesliga campaign.
Brandt is gradually making a lot of strides since joining Borussia Dortmund from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer. He has already developed an excellent combination with captain Reus. But most importantly, he has proved himself to be effective in whatever role Favre has given him.
Recently, Brandt has been playing as a central midfielder, where his quick movements and clever turn of pace has helped him emerge as Dortmund’s main ball-carrier. But, against Mainz, it will be interesting to see how the German international manages to get past robust midfielders like Malong and Baku.
Fans should also keep an eye out for Balerdi, who is tipped to make his first start for Dortmund while Alcacer can also play a key role.
1.FSV Mainz 05 0-3 Borussia Dortmund
Dortmund haven’t performed exactly well this season. But, given their recent run of form, coupled with Mainz’s own misery at the back, they could find it rather easy to score goals this weekend. Hence, we expect the Black and Yellows to seal a comfortable win and put more pressure on Gladbach and Leipzig at the top.