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6.09.2017Bundesliga

Our next opponents: FSV Mainz 05

The Werkself go up the Rhine on Bundesliga matchday three. Heiko Herrlich's team are away to FSV Mainz 05 at the Opel Arena on Saturday at 15.30 CET – and are set to meet several old friends. The lowdown on our next opponents.
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POSITION

The start of the new season has been incredibly unlucky for Mainz. The opening fixtures put the team from the Rhineland Palatinate state capital up against ambitious newcomers Hannover 96 and VfB Stuttgart. Both games ended in a 1-0 defeat leaving FSV with no points and no goals going into the international break. "We definitely didn't imagine it would turn out like this," said sporting director Rouven Schröder but he also made it clear: "It's very important to keep calm." An attitude that has helped Mainz be very successful for a long time with the team from the carnival city now playing their ninth season in succession in the Bundesliga.

Personnel

New coach Sandro Schwarz is following in impressive footsteps. Both Jürgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel shaped the club over many years and now count amongst the most respected coaches in Europe. Schwarz's immediate predecessor Martin Schmidt was also successful and, to everybody's surprise, took the club into the Europa League before last season's poor performances that saw Mainz just avoid relegation brought his spell in charge to an end. Now Schwarz is at the helm. The 38-year-old, born in Mainz and at FSV as a youth player, follows Klopp, Tuchel and Schmidt in progressing through the ranks at the club before going on to be the Mainz coach. Summer signing goalkeeper René Adler, sees Mainz bring in a big name – contrary to their own philosophy – who is to be the new face of the team. Adler, now 32, came through the ranks at Bayer 04 and his performances in goal for the Werkself saw him go on to play for Germany. Mainz also have two other familiar faces: Giulio Donati and Levin Öztunali are first choices at Mainz and they are looking forward to a reunion with former team-mates on Saturday.

Problems

Two games against newly promoted teams without scoring demonstrate: Above all, there are problems up front. The Schwarz team created a lot of chances against Hannover but Mainz mostly looked unimpressive in attack at Stuttgart. The departure of Jhon Córdoba, who moved to FC Köln in the summer, has made itself felt the start of the new campaign. The Japanese forward Yoshinori Muto was brought in to replace Cordoba as a central striker. However, he's a completely different type of player and has yet to find his rhythm after injury problems in the past.

Potential

The past shows: The calm environment at Mainz and the solid work of the management have brought Mainz into the top half of the table more often than not in spite of modest financial means. The team has played in Europe four times – days of celebration for Mainz supporters. And, even if people in the city are completely satisfied with playing in the top flight: They still want to experience days like that again someday at the Opel Arena.

Prediction

Mainz is Mainz – and full of surprises. In recent years they have qualified for Europe with a similar squad and sometimes battled relegation. At the moment the latter seems more realistic given the disappointing previous campaign and the bumpy start to this season. However, the squad has sufficient quality to achieve a mid-table finish. A lot will depend on whether coach Schwarz can find a way of solving the problem with finishing.

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