Borussia Dortmund take on 1. FSV Mainz in a rescheduled fixture on Tuesday as they look to keep up the pace with Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.
Borussia Dortmund will have the opportunity to reduce the gap at the top of the Bundesliga table to just four points when they take on 1. FSV Mainz on Wednesday.
Following eliminations from the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and the DFB Pokal, the Bundesliga remains the only real avenue for manager Marco Rose to redeem himself in a rather unimpressive debut campaign at the Signal Iduna Park.
The former Borussia Monchengladbach tactician has been quite unfortunate with injuries throughout the course of the season. But with the likes of Erling Haaland and Giovanni Reyna recently making their returns to the team, the Black and Yellows will be optimistic about their chances of sealing a victory in this crucial encounter.
Dortmund’s clash against Mainz was originally scheduled to take place earlier in the month, but the fixture had to be postponed due to a COVID-19 breakout within the Mainz camp.
While the 05-ers are in much better shape at the moment, there is still uncertainty over the fitness of first-team players, who have had no footballing action for almost three weeks. Dortmund’s poor away record this season could be promising for the hosts, but given how they were dismantled 3-1 in the reverse fixture, we could be in for an exciting contest at the MEWA ARENA.
Team News & Tactics
1. FSV Mainz 05
A total of only 12 first-team players were able to train with Bo Svensson heading into this game, of which Dominik Kohr and Alex Hack are suspended for the tie. A detailed fitness report isn’t expected until hours before the game, as many players are yet to produce negative results for their Covid tests.
— 1. FSV Mainz 05 (@1FSVMainz05) March 15, 2022
Fortunately, goalkeeper Robin Zentner appears to be in contention for a start after training under the watchful eyes of the management. Provided that more players return before Wednesday’s encounter, coach Bo Svensson will certainly look to persist with his three-man backline with Silvan Widmer and Aaron Martin operating as wing-backs.
Jeremiah St. Juste was heavily linked with a move to Dortmund last summer. His raw pace could have been useful against someone like Haaland, but the young defender has been ruled out due to injury, meaning the onus will be on Moussa Niakhate to lead the Mainz defence alongside Stefan Bell and Niklas Tauer.
There shouldn’t be any changes in the attack if all three of Jonathan Burkardt, Karim Onisiwo and Lee Jae-sung become available. But that is a big if, as players look to fast-track their return to the pitch following a COVID outbreak.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Zentner; Tauer, Bell, Niakhate; Widmer, Barreiro, Stach, Martin; Burkardt, Lee; Onisiwo
Marco Rose delivered a team update ahead of the midweek trip to Mainz, and it is far from promising. Marco Reus hasn’t recovered from his illness yet, while Manuel Akanji may not return until the weekend. Raphael Guerreiro is not fit either, leaving Dortmund without key defensive players.
"Marco Reus is still ill at home. Mats Hummels will return, whether he can play remains to be seen. Raphaël Guerreiro cannot be present yet. Otherwise, nothing new has come up. Akanji might come back at the weekend."#BVB pic.twitter.com/8ReNLpbBww
— BVB Newsblog (@bvbnewsblog) March 15, 2022
As such, Rose could be forced to continue with the makeshift backline used against Arminia Bielefeld on the weekend, with Felix Passlack retaining his role at right-back. It will be interesting to see if youngsters such as Lennard Maloney and Soumaila Coulibaly get some game time here, with the former notably appearing as a late substitute for Passlack in the last game.
There could be some personnel changes in midfield and attack in light of Erling Haaland and Gio Reyna’s return to full fitness. Axel Witsel may have to settle for a place on the bench, with Jude Bellingham assuming his role in central midfield.
Reyna could find himself taking up Bellingham’s role in the number ten position, operating just behind Haaland. As for the wide attacking roles, Thorgan Hazard may have to settle for a place on the bench in light of Marius Wolf’s impressive performance against Bielefeld, whereas Donyell Malen is a guaranteed starter on the left-hand side.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Kobel; Passlack, Can, Pongracic, Schulz; Bellingham, Dahoud; Wolf, Reyna, Malen; Haaland
- Mainz’s Jonathan Burkardt scored one of his team-leading seven strikes in the reverse fixture, but is currently ten Bundesliga matches without a goal.
- Bo Svensson is averaging more points per game (1.48) than ex-Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel, but has slipped behind his other celebrated predecessor Jürgen Klopp (1.51).
- Mainz have the best home defence in the division, with only seven goals conceded in 12 games at the MEWA ARENA. Next best are Bayern and Bochum, with 12 each from 12 matches.
- Dortmund have lost three of 15 Bundesliga games involving Erling Haaland this season, but three of nine without their 16-goal top scorer.
- Borussia Dortmund are unbeaten in six away games against Mainz in the Bundesliga.
Player to Watch
Erling Haaland’s return could be a massive boost for a Borussia Dortmund side that has lacked the X-factor inside the box. The Norwegian international offers physical and aerial presence in the final third, which could go a long way in overwhelming the Mainz defenders, who haven’t had much footballing action in the past few weeks.
On a personal level, this game would mean a lot to Haaland, who has missed a chunk of the season due to injury. His frequent fitness issues have already raised questions, but the youngster will be hoping to silence the critics with a dominant attacking display and help Dortmund remain in contention for the Bundesliga title.
1. FSV Mainz 1-3 Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund shouldn’t find any difficulties dealing with a Mainz team who are expected to miss a few star players and have played very little football of late. On top of that, the return of Erling Haaland and Gio Reyna should offer the creative spark they had missed over the past month or so.
At the same time, the Mainz attack is very capable of taking advantage of Dortmund’s makeshift backline, and it would not be surprising to see the Black and Yellows miss out on yet another clean sheet this midweek.