FC Köln vs Mainz 05 preview:
An important contest in the race for European football
By Ben Sully @SullyBen
FC Köln and Mainz 05 both have aspirations of qualifying for European competition and with just two points separating the two sides, Saturday's contest promises to be a close-fought affair.
|Anthony Modeste.||Photo: Sandro Halank, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA 4.0|
FC Köln will be looking for a positive response after losing 1-0 away to Union Berlin in their most recent outing.
That defeat left Steffen Baumgart's side in eighth place, and they will need to make up a four-point gap if they are to finish in the top six.
Their recent league form has been mixed with their last six Bundesliga games resulting in two victories, two draws and two defeats, with none of those contests producing more than two goals.
Cagey affairs seem to be the order of the day for Die Geißböcke in recent weeks, as they look to prioritise a solid defence over attacking flair, with no team scoring more than one goal against Köln in their last six matches.
As Baumgart's outfit now look forward to an important encounter against Mainz, the hosts will be looking to rediscover their goalscoring touch after scoring just four goals across their last seven home league games.
Their quest for goals will be boosted by the expected return of Anthony Modeste, who missed the meeting with Union through illness. However, Sebastian Andersson and Salih Özcan will miss out for the hosts after testing positive for COVID-19, while Timo Hübers and Jan Thielmann are suspended for the contest.
Mainz missed the chance to close the gap to the top six in midweek, when they failed to take points from their game in hand. A Silvan Widmer goal was not enough to help his side take a point from Wednesday's encounter with Augsburg, as the Fuggerstädter edged out Bo Svensson's side via a 2-1 scoreline.
Unfortunately for Mainz, it was another poor away day showing and their failure to collect points on the road has hampered their progress this season. Die Nullfünfer currently hold the third-best home record in the league, but success at the MEWA Arena has not translated into away trips, with Mainz's 14 away Bundesliga matches yielding just eight points.
Svensson's charges enter Saturday's contest in tenth position, with six points separating them from Hoffenheim who occupy sixth place and their European aspirations would receive a massive boost if they can pick up three points against Köln.
The visitors have nearly a full squad available for the trip to the RheinEnergieStadion, with Delano Burgzorg and Jerry St. Juste the only known absentees.