In Match Week 3 of the 2012-2013 Bundesliga season. Club ball has been off for a week for World Cup qualifying, and both of these clubs had players who were participating. Before the break, Mainz lost their home opener 1-0 to SpVgg, while FC Bayern continued their impressive opening form with a 6-1 beat-down of VfB Stuttgart. Bayern will be trying to keep the perfect record alive and stay at the top of the table, and Mainz will be trying to do anything they can to pick up a point.
Arjen Robben is doubtful with continuing groin problems. Every time he goes off to international duty, he comes back groaning and clutching his genitalia. Whatever - this should give us a chance to see Thomas Müller or Xherdan Shaqiri at RW, which some of you have been calling for anyway. Meanwhile, Jupp Heynckes says that Bastian is closing in on full fitness. Rafinha appears to be back to full fitness, but the other long-term absences (Alaba and Mario Gomez) are doing full rehab, but won't be ready to go by this week.
You know Jupp would like to see Javi Martinez on the field, but it's hard to take Gustavo and Kroos out when they both looked so great last week. Hmmm ... here's my guess:
Ribery - Kroos - Shaqiri
Gustavo - Schweinsteiger
Badstuber - Dante - Boateng - Lahm
Keep in mind this is what I guess will happen, not what I want to happen. Tommy played during international duty, and he can also play at any of those 4 attacking spots, so I have a hunch he might be the super-sub. Goose looked awesome last time, so let's assume Javi continues to get the slow roll-out. Also, that would give him a chance to get a nice welcome from the Allianz crowd, if he comes in as a sub.
Tymo, Pizarro, and yes, even van Buyten would be other sub options should they be needed, and/or should it appear that the game is in hand.
Mainz has actually been something of a thorn in Bayern's side recently, beating us last November and then holding us to a draw last April. The November loss was one of the more frustrating one of last season - I wrote about it here. On the whole, though, they were only a lower-mid-level club last year, and their recent loss to SpVgg shows that they aren't going to run us off the pitch with talent.
They appear to run a 4-2-3-1, somewhat like ours, but with the middle of the "3" line, usually Andreas Ivanschitz, playing a more varied role. He sometimes gets as far back as the other middies, making it almost a 4-3-2-1. They're also much less adventurous and less offensive away from home (like a lot of lower and mid-level Bundesliga clubs are). Last season, they scored only 20 goals in 19 away matches, and their 0-0 draw vs. us last year was an exercise in boredom. So we're going to need to show them something they haven't seen before (another reason why I think Shaqiri might play a role) and yet also be prepared for the counter.
By the way, that linked article from last year reminds me how much I miss doing those stop-frame tactical analysis posts. I sort of fell away from those after the whole "you suck, bring back Luke" period, and then soon after that we moved to this new site and I haven't had the chance. Maybe I'll do one this week if the club give us anything worth analyzing.
Anyway, the aforementioned Ivanschitz will be familiar to anyone who saw Germany-Austria. He had a few solid plays on the ball and nearly had a goal. They also have Croatian striker Ivan Klasnic, who hasn't played yet this season (getting over a bout of food poisoning) but who will probably figure on Saturday, at least as a sub. Maxim Choupo-Moting had 10 goals across all competitions for Mainz last year, and Julian Baumgartlinger is another Austrian international who we saw earlier this week. All in all, Mainz won't blow you away with speed or ball skills, but they can certainly punish you if you show up lazy or make stupid mistakes.
Elsewhere in the Competition
We've got a match today, as Augsburg tries to get their first win of the season. They'll face VfL Wolfsburg, who scored a (sort of lucky) win in week 1 before getting torched 4-0 last week. On Saturday, Dortmund hosts Leverkusen in what should be an exciting match. Dortmund has looked maybe a half a notch below full form so far, but a win against Bayer Levs would put them right where they want to be. Leverkusen decisively beat Freiburg last week, putting 10 shots on goal and creating dangerous chances every time they went forward. So they'll be coming in with confidence. Also note that both of these clubs have mid-week play subsequently (Dortmund in the CL, Leverkusen in the Europa).
Hannover 96 hosts Werder Bremen in a match between clubs with top-5 aspirations. Bremen made a few moves to strengthen their squad this summer, but then lost two straight (one in the Pokal, one in the league) to open the year. They recently beat HSV convincingly, though, and will be looking to keep that winning streak going. Stuttgart vs. Fortuna D (also on Saturday) and Eintracht vs. HSV (late game Sunday) should also be interesting.
- The match will be carried on EuroSport and Gol! TV. We kick off at 3:30 PM Munich time, and you can check the time for you (or for your current computer or mobile) here:
Convert time zones with worldtimebuddy.com
- It promises to be somewhat cooler and with a chance of rain on Saturday. The Allianz pitch is one of the best in the world, so rain doesn't affect the game as much, but bring an umbrella or a hat if you're headed to the match.
- Champions League play starts next week, and that's prime mid-day-drunk-blogging time. So buckle up. Thanks for reading.