Wolfsburg vs Mainz preview:
Can Die Nullfünfer end their winless run?
By Ben Sully @SullyBen
Wolfsburg will welcome Mainz to the Volkswagen Arena on Saturday, with the hosts looking for a win that would all but secure their Bundesliga place, and they come up against a Mainz side that are winless in their last four matches.
|Bo Svensson.||Photo: GEPA Pictures/Wolfgang Jannach|
Wolfsburg currently enjoy a six-point buffer to the bottom three with 34 points to their name after 30 games. Importantly, not since the 2016-17 season has a team that has picked up 34 points or more finished in the bottom three. Incidentally in that campaign, it was in fact Wolfsburg who faced a relegation playoff despite accumulating 37 points.
With that in mind, Die Wölfe will not feel completely safe, but a win over Mainz on Friday would certainly alleviate any lingering doubts.
Although, the prospect of such a result seems optimistic, as Florian Kohfeldt's side have lost four of their last five away games, including a dispiriting 6-1 drubbing dished out by Dortmund last weekend.
A sobering first half saw Marco Rose's charges rack up a five-goal lead within 38 minutes, with a Ridle Baku goal offering a momentary bright spark in an otherwise disappointing afternoon.
As a result of the Dortmund thrashing, Wolfsburg now hold the third-worst defensive away record, so they will be pleased to return to home surroundings for Friday's fixture.
A 4-0 victory over Arminia Bielefeld in their most recent home encounter will offer cause for optimism, and they will be looking to clinch back-to-back home victories with a win on Friday.
An ankle injury will prevent Luca Waldschmidt from taking part in Saturday's contest. Maxence Lacroix, meanwhile, is a doubt after he was forced off against Dortmund due to a hamstring issue.
Mainz have seen their European aspirations fade away in recent weeks, with a four-game winless run leaving Bo Svensson's side stranded in ninth position.
Three of their last four matches have taken place away from home, and that is where Mainz have really struggled this season. Only rock bottom Greuther Fürth have picked up fewer points on the road this term than Mainz, who have accumulated a measly eight-point tally, with 11 of their 15 away league games ending in defeat.
A poor away record has stifled Mainz's progress this season, but an inability to string a number of wins together has also hampered them in their quest for European qualification.
Their longest winning league run this season stands at two games, and they have only managed that feat on two occasions.
Despite their European hopes going up in smoke, Svensson can still be proud of his players' efforts this term, with Mainz on course to achieve their best Bundesliga finish since the 2015/16 season.
The visitors are unable to call upon Jae-Sung Lee and Jerry St. Juste, who miss out due to knee and shoulder injuries respectively.