14:30 (BST); Saturday 30th September; Volkswagen Arena (Wolfsburg, Germany)
Wolfsburg were the first Bundesliga side to make changes, as Andries Jonker left and former Mainz manager Martin Schmidt came in, and he’ll get his first crack at his former club on his home patch. Since becoming Wolfsburg manager, die Wölfe have two draws to their name.
Mainz have been up and down so far with the international break providing a great opportunity to regroup, but they enter their clash with Wolfsburg on the back of a home win.
This clash in Germany’s North is a six-pointer, with only goal difference separating the sides entering Week 7, and the winner can potentially find themselves inside the top half.
Last Time Out
Bayern Munich 2-2 Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg made the long journey south as heavy underdogs when they faced off with Bayern Munich on Friday night.
Wolfsburg didn’t start as they would have liked and conceded a penalty just after the half hour mark, one that Robert Lewandowski converted. Arjen Robben doubled the hosts’ lead entering half time.
However, Wolfsburg showed a workman-like mentality and they were duly rewarded. As the game approached the hour mark, Maximilian Arnold’s long range free-kick was mishandled by Sven Ulreich into the back of the net.
Growing in confidence, Wolfsburg were on the prowl and eight minutes from time they stole a point when Paul Verhaegh’s cross was met by Daniel Didavi for an excellent header to silence the masses at the Allianz.
Mainz 1-0 Hertha Berlin
Mainz were hoping that they could return to winning ways as they welcomed a Hertha Berlin side who struggled on the road.
In an uneventful first half, which saw chances scarce, the second half saw the Video Assistant Referee in action after Yoshinori Muto was brought down by Karim Rekik. After examination from all angles, referee Tobias Stieler pointed to the spot.
Pablo de Blasis stepped up and squeezed the ball past Rune Jarstein to score Mainz’s 500th Bundesliga goal, securing their second win of the season.
Martin Schmidt had reason to celebrate after his side’s impressive comeback to secure a point at the expense of Bayern Munich. We saw Wolfsburg in 4-3-3 formation, which didn’t work initially, but the substitutions made a difference last time out.
Jakub Blaszczykowski and Daniel Didavi were impressive and are likely to start with William and Yunus Malli making way. Gian-Luca Itter was a surprise starter at left back, but with Yannick Gerhardt to return, the 18-year-old will make way.
A gritty win last time out for Mainz could be exactly what they need to kick start their season. Alexandru Maxim has struggled since transferring from Stuttgart and he is likely to make way for Levin Oztunali.
We believe manager Sandro Schwarz will remain in the defensive 5-4-1 formation with Yoshinori Muto playing alone upfront. One change expected from the side that took the points last time out.
Key Battle: Daniel Didavi vs Giulio Donati
Daniel Didavi was a pivotal reason why Wolfsburg came from behind to secure a point against Bayern Munich last time out.
The midfielder scored the equaliser in Munich, his third goal of the season. At 27, Didavi will look to be a first-team regular under new manager Martin Schmidt as Wolfsburg enter a transition period.
Giulio Donati has been a solid contributor for Mainz and will hope to give his manager Sandro Schwarz plenty of runs and width against Wolfsburg.
Last time out against Hertha Berlin, Donati covered 10.06km which is almost more than any of his opponents. Schwarz will look for Donati to provide a similar level of influence in Week 7.
Revenge, a dish best served cold
Although they say there are no hard feelings when a manager is sacked, you better believe Martin Schmidt will be desperate to get one up on his former employers on Saturday.
Schmidt led Mainz to the Europa League at the end of the 2015/16 season, but the addition of European football proved too much for his side to cope with and Mainz barely avoided the drop.
Schmidt was sacked with second team coach Sandro Schwarz taking over. Schmidt only had to wait a few weeks into the season to be back in the coaching hot seat and he’ll be hoping for revenge against his former club.
Create and convert
Mainz have struggled so far on their travels as they are yet to score and secure a point this season. Schwarz’s side haven’t had a problem creating opportunities -they-re sixth in the Bundesliga for shots taken (79)-, but still they haven’t found the back of the net away from the Opel Arena.
Yoshinori Muto is the club’s leading scorer with two, with the rest of the goals spread out across the board. Can Mainz break their scoring duck in Wolfsburg or will they fire another blank?
PREDICTION: Wolfsburg 1-1 Mainz
This has all the makings of a fiery encounter with a couple of former Mainz members now playing with Wolfsburg. The visitors are yet to secure a point on their travels, however, a worrisome sign if Schwarz’s side can’t get a draw before the international break.
Wolfsburg have been working a lot harder under Schmidt, but even still they won’t do enough to secure a win as they draw their third draw in succession.
Can Martin Schmidt secure his first win as Wolfsburg manager or will his former club have the last laugh? Let us know in the comments section below.
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