Bundesliga Preview: In-form Mainz provides tricky challenge for leader Bayern

Victory for champion Bayern Munich in a game against visitor Mainz 05 would have been a foregone conclusion in any other season in the past decade but not this year.

Mainz, under Danish coach Bo Svensson, is having its best season in 11 years, having lost one of its last six Bundesliga matches.

Champions League club VfL Wolfsburg found out last week how deadly Mainz can be in attack these days, conceding two goals in the opening four minutes to lose 3-0.

Mainz is currently in seventh place on 21 points thanks to its hard-working backline — the league’s second best.

When Mainz loses possession Svensson’s players hustle its opponents and stifles any chance of a quick break, while in attack it has the most in-form German striker in 21-year-old Jonathan Burkardt, who has netted 10 times in all competitions this season, including seven goals in the Bundesliga.

Burkardt has averaged a goal every two games this season. The young forward has also had a total of 30 shots on goal, the second most in the Bundesliga, and scored against Wolfsburg.

Getting something out of its trip to Munich is not beyond Mainz’s expectations these days.

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“If we continue playing this type of Mainz 05 football all the way to Christmas then we will be happy when sitting under the Christmas tree,” said Burkardt.

But it will have to hit top form and hopes the host has a bad day.

Bayern is on a high following last week’s 3-2 league win at second-placed Borussia Dortmund that opened a four-point gap at the top.

It followed that up with a 3-0 victory over Barcelona on Wednesday to complete a perfect Champions League group stage with six wins from six games.

Coach Julian Nagelsmann has midfielder Joshua Kimmich back in training after he tested negative for COVID-19 following his infection and quarantine earlier this month.

Dortmund has its backs to the wall following last week’s loss to the champion. It must now win Saturday’s Ruhr valley mini-derby at VfL Bochum if it is to stay in touch with the leaders.

Bayer Leverkusen, a further three points back in third place, will be hoping for a Dortmund slip-up before it visits Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.

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