Mainz vs Stuttgart preview:
Matarazzo's side continue fight for survival
By Ben Sully @SullyBen
Stuttgart's fight to remain in the Bundesliga takes them to the MEWA Arena on Saturday, with Die Schwaben set to face a Mainz side who usually perform on home turf.
Mainz's hopes of qualifying for European competition have taken a blow in recent weeks, with Bo Svensson's side winless in their last three matches, while they have lost four of their previous six games.
In fact, Die Nullfünfer have lost their last two matches, although their most recent defeat was particularly demoralising after Mainz gave up a two-goal lead against FC Köln.
Jonathan Burkardt scored his tenth league goal of the season to give his side an early lead before Karim Onisiwo doubled the advantage after the break.
However, what should have been a comfortable afternoon for Mainz took a drastic turn, when Ellyes Skhiri, Dejan Ljubičić and Luca Kilian netted to snatch all three points for Steffan Baumgart's charges.
The defeat leaves Mainz in tenth place, and with six points separating them from sixth position, hopes of qualifying for European competition have begun to dissipate.
Although, while it remains mathematically possible, Svensson's men must continue to fight, and their home form this season suggests they could claim a positive result on Saturday.
Die Nullfünfer have won nine of their 14 home Bundesliga games this term, while they currently hold the fourth-best home record in the top-flight, which offers cause for optimism ahead of Saturday's contest.
The hosts are unable to call upon the services of the injured Alexander Hack, while Lee Jae-sung and Jerry St. Juste are also sidelined. Svensson is also missing Aaron Martin, who will serve a one-match suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards.
Stuttgart remain perilously close to the bottom three, with just one point separating them from danger.
Die Schwaben were stopped in their tracks in their most recent outing, when Dortmund picked up a 2-0 victory to end Stuttgart's four-game unbeaten run.
As they now turn their attention towards an away contest with Mainz, the visitors will be hoping to take advantage of Mainz's recent poor run of form and after winning the last three meetings between the two sides, Stuttgart will be confident that they can cause their hosts problems.
Their recent head-to-head record against Mainz provides inspiration, but the Swabians will take no encouragement from their away results this season, which has seen Stuttgart win just one of their 14 away league games.
The reason for their away day woes can be attributed to their struggles in front of goal. Pellegrino Matarazzo has seen his side score two or more goals in just two away Bundesliga games this term, while Hertha BSC and Arminia Bielefeld are the only teams that have scored fewer away league goals than Stuttgart this season.
Stuttgart's quest for goals is set to receive a boost, with Saša Kalajdžić expected to return after missing the Dortmund contest due to COVID-19. Unfortunately for Matarazzo, Wataru Endo tested positive for COVID-19 during the week, which rules the 24-year-old out of Saturday's encounter, while Atakan Karazor is suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards.