14:30 (BST); Saturday 14th October; Opel Arena (Mainz, Germany)
Mainz and Hamburg enter Week 8 of the Bundesliga tied on seven points with the two teams facing off. Hamburg started off the season on fire winning their opening two clashes but since then Markus Gisdol’s side has only secured a draw in their last five matches. Mainz have had an up and down time under new manager Sandro Schwarz, but they have had plenty of success at home with six of the seven points collected this season coming at the Opel Arena. The loser of this clash could very well see themselves in the bottom three making this encounter important for both sides.
Last time out
Wolfsburg 1-1 Mainz
Mainz made the journey north to Wolfsburg to face-off with their former head coach Martin Schmidt. It was Wolfsburg who made the early inroads into the clash but nothing was forthcoming in an evenly contested first half. The second half sprung into life and it was Wolfsburg who would take the lead on 55 minutes thanks to midfielder Josuha Guilavogui.
Sandro Schwarz made two changes after falling behind which made Mainz more expansive going forward and 15 minutes before time they would get their reward. Yoshinori Muto scoring his third goal of the Bundesliga campaign to give Mainz a share of the points in Wolfsburg.
Hamburg 0-0 Werder Bremen
In the 107th Nordderby, Hamburg were aiming to break a run of four games without a win as they host Werder Bremen. In an open clash it was Werder Bremen who had the best chance in the opening 45 minutes when Thomas Delaney’s header was saved by Christian Mathenia.
Hamburg would then press with Bobby Wood coming close prior to the interval when he latched onto Tatsuya Ito’s ball in but Jiri Pavlenka was there to make the save. Andre Hahn almost put Hamburg in front when he tried to catch Pavlenka off his line with an audacious chip, but the Czech shot stopper pulling off an excellent save. Hamburg outshot Bremen 17 to eight and if it was for Pavlenka Hamburg would’ve taken the three points.
Sandro Schwarz’s side showed a lot of character to steal a point in Wolfsburg last time out, but face a different challenge from Hamburg on Saturday. We expect Mainz to play in a 5-4-1 formation which can become interchangeable into a 4-3-3.
The key will be where Jean-Philippe Gbamin lines up, he is given free reign to play further up the pitch. This will see Daniel Brosinski and Giulio Donati play as full backs. The team will go unchanged from the side that faced Wolfsburg.
Hamburg were the far better side last time out against Bremen and Markus Gisdol will hope for a similar performance in Mainz on Saturday. Tatsuya Ito was solid in his first start for Hamburg and will once again start, Filip Kostić is a chance to make the bench after missing most of this season due to injury.
Rick van Drongelen could make a return but its unsure whether he will start or not. Jann-Fiete Arp is a chance to appear in Mainz and if Bobby Wood can’t produce, expect the 17-year-old to be thrown up front by Markus Gisdol.
Key Battle: Rene Adler vs Christian Mathenia
Rene Adler welcomes his former side Hamburg to his new home Mainz on Matchday 8 with the former Germany international hopeful of getting one up on his former club. The 32-year-old shot stopper made 129 appearances for Hamburg over five seasons but now he will thwart their efforts on goal. This season for Mainz, Adler has only kept one clean sheet with the third worst defensive teams in the league.
Christian Mathenia joined from Darmstadt at the beginning of last season and was immediately given the #2 role at Hamburg. But with injuries to his predecessor in Adler, Mathenia took his opportunity as Hamburg’s first choice goal keeper. But Mathenia faced a similar to Adler last season when Hamburg brought in Julian Pollersbeck as competition. It would be Mathenia who showcased his worth and against Adler, the 25-year-old will want to prove why Hamburg stuck with him this season.
Reset from the break
Hamburg wish they could’ve maintained their excellent opening two games where they defeated Augsburg and Köln. But since then, an all to familiar sighting as Hamburg have taken only one point in their past five games has seen the Northern club sit in 16th place and in the relegation play-off spot. The international break provides Hamburg the perfect opportunity to reset and recompose themselves for their upcoming clash.
With Sandro Schwarz playing five at the back, look for the wing backs to try to stretch the Hamburg defense. Hamburg, like Mainz have conceded 11 times in their opening seven matches and with that in mind, the likes of Levin Oztunali and Pablo De Blasis will need to stretch Hamburg defensively. Can Mainz force Hamburg into a lull in defense?
Prediction: Mainz 2-1 Hamburg
Mainz have been relatively strong at home with their only defeat coming at the hands of Hoffenheim, a game they should’ve won. Sandro Schwarz’s side will be a tough nut to crack for a Hamburg side that has been miss firing. The pressure will be on Markus Gisdol if Hamburg can’t secure a win in Mainz. The clash will be an interesting one with the goalkeepers playing a major role in the contest. Mainz for the win in the encounter with Hamburg lingering over the drop zone once again.
Can Mainz return to winning ways from the break or will Hamburg break their five game winless run? Let us know in the comments section below
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