Mainz 05 vs. Schalke 04 preview:
Two sides with different objectives
By Ben Sully @SullyBen
After losing last weekend, Mainz 05 will look to get their quest for European qualification back on track when they face a Schalke 04 side that are battling for Bundesliga survival.
|Photo: FC Schalke 04|
Mainz’s European push suffered a setback on Sunday when they were thrashed 3-0 in their away meeting with Wolfsburg. Bo Svensson's side shipped all three goals in the opening half hour to ensure their trip to the Volkswagen Arena was a fruitless one.
As a result of the defeat, Mainz slipped down to eighth position, allowing Wolfsburg to move up into seventh place. With three points separating them from the top six, they remain in the hunt for European football, but they will need to finish the season with a positive run of results.
Having picked up 45 points from their 30 league games, die Nullfünfer are just one point away from equalling their final tally from the 2021-22 campaign.
Since losing 2-1 to Borussia Dortmund on January 25, Mainz have embarked on a seven-game unbeaten home run (W4, D2), which included a 3-1 win over Bayern Munich in their most recent home game.
The hosts are unable to call upon Silvan Widmer and Jonathan Burkardt, who are sidelined with ankle and knee injuries respectively.
After losing 4-0 away to Freiburg, Schalke returned to winning ways against Werder Bremen last weekend. Bremen led for the majority of the contest following Marvin Ducksch’s 18th-minute opener, but Schalke produced a late turnaround thanks to Sepp van den Berg’s equaliser and a stoppage-time winner from Dominick Drexler.
The result represented a second straight home win for Schalke, moving them to within a point of safety. However, Schalke remain in the automatic relegation places, and they will need to negotiate a tricky run-in if they are to avoid the drop. Before the end of the season, die Königsblauen have to face Mainz, Bayern and RB Leipzig on their travels, and they also have a home match against DFB-Pokal finalists Eintracht Frankfurt.
With three of their final four games taking place away from home, Thomas Reis will know that his side need to improve upon a run of results that has seen Schalke pick up just one win in 14 away league games this season.
The visitors will be without the services of Ralf Fährmann, Moritz Jenz, Soichiro Kozuki, Eder Balanta and Justin Heekeren.