It is an optimistic point of view, it is an unlikely scenario, but hypothetically Bayern München could win the Bundesliga with a victory over 1. FSV Mainz 05.
This scenario is contingent on the two Revier rivals of the Rekordmeiter. Both Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04 need to drop points in both of their matches in conjunction with a successful three points in Mainz for Bayern. While a negative Dortmund result is possible in its match against Hannover 96, one for Schalke 04 at home against Eintracht Braunschweig is less so.
For that reason, manager Pep Guardiola is not concerning himself with that he can not control.
"It's all the same when we win the title," said Guardiola in his pre-match press conference. "Yeah of course the sooner the better. Then we can better prepare for the Quarterfinal of the Champions League. We can achieve it tomorrow in Mainz, or on Tuesday in Berlin or also at home against Hoffenheim. It's all the same." [AZ]
Mainz is no longer a club just to look passed, having only lost one league match in its last twelve. It has assisted in the demise of Bayer Leverkusen while also hampering Schalke's rise as well. Having already participated in the Europa League and UEFA Cup, the Karnevalsverein is pushing for its first ever Champions League berth.
Whether the match wins them a title or not, it will be one of the tougher road contests left in Bayern's persuit of a 24th.
The Match (18th Meeting)
Location: Coface Arena, Mainz, Germany
Head: Tobias Stieler
FCBayern: 4 W, 0 D, 0 L – YC
Assistants: Patrick Ittrich, Sascha Thierlert
Fourth Official: Guido Kleve
Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com
Television and Streaming
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Mainz 05: WDWDW
FC Bayern (4-1) Mainz 05 | Allianz Arena
FCB: Arjen Robben (50'), Thomas Müller (52', 82'), Mario Mandžukić (69')
M05: Shawn Parker (44')
Bundesliga: 10 W, 2 D, 3 L
DFB-Pokal: 2 W, 0 L
Biggest Victory: 4-0 (December 16, 2006, Mainz, Germany)
Biggest Defeat: 2-3 (November 27, 2011, Mainz, Germany)
The balancing act that Guardiola has performed thus far has put everyone his new 20-man squad on the pitch, weighing both personalities and skill in the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League. The next stretch of league matches presents a different brand of opportunity, facing top German sides over the next week and a half on the home stretch to Bayern's 24th domestic league title.
Since Mainz does not have a giant presence in the center of attack, a defender like Javier Martínez is a better fire blanket to prevent the defense from burning down. Who joins him is anyone's guess, for both Dante and Jérôme Boateng have alternated shifts in defense since Martinez and Daniel van Buyten provided more depth in defense.
With Thiago out with a Thigh injury, the possibility of Lahm taking a shift at left back have decreased somewhat, but it is still a viable scenario. What will determine the captain's positioning is who Guardiola deploys in the hole. Toni Kroos is the better option considering how Mainz have jammed the middle in the Rückrunde, which would require Lahm to return to his adopted position.
This match would be one where Xherdan Shaqiri would thrive in. That being said, having Arjen Robben and Shaqiri in the side is a bit redundant as the match against VfL Wolfsburg portrayed nicely. With the Bundesliga the primary focus the next week and a half, Robben will likely get the nod, with seven or eight matchdays for Shaqiri to get playing time.
Perhaps the biggest indicator of who plays is the fact that even if Bayern does not clinch the Bundesliga this weekend, two more victories would unconditionally crown the Stern des Südens as champions.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1)
Bastian Schweinsteiger – Philipp Lahm
A club that has struggled to stay in the Bundesliga in recent seasons is making its greatest push yet to play among Germany's Elite. Clubs that Mainz struggled with during the Hinrunde have posed less of a challenge
The latent change that has brought about superficial success is Thomas Tuchel shifting to a diamond formation. The adjustment put Johannes Geis as a focal point in midfield and pushed Shinji Okazaki into a position to output more in attack. It has also pushed the opponent attacks to the flanks, thanks in part to Joo-Ho Park moving from fullback to midfield.
Tuchel has also entrusted youngster Loris Karius to man the goal after Heinz Müller fell out of favor in November. Karius has kept six clean sheets since.
Since his arrival from Wolfsburg, Ja-Cheol Koo has slowly pushed Nicolai Müller to a irrelevance. Müller has not scored in the Rückrunde, his form dropping drastically after his sublime start to the season. Koo has become a quicker, more skillful option going forward, facilitating chances for Choupo-Moting and Okazaki in front of him.
A though stretch of matches is finally coming to an end, and Mainz will want to go out on a high note.
Projected Lineup (4-1-2-1-2)
Maxim Choupo-Moting – Shinji Okazaki
Joo-Ho Park – Christoph Moritz
Junior Díaz – Stefan Bell – Nikolce Noveski – Zdanek Pospech
Bench: Christian Wetklo, Benedikt Saller, Julian Koch, Niki Zimling, Elkin Soto, Nicolai Müller, Shawn Parker
Mainz will pose a different challenge to Bayern than it did during the club's trip to Munich. While other top teams have struggled to create from the wings, Bayern's quality on the flanks is at a different level. An 18th consecutive victory will not come easy, but once die Roten break down the damn, the water tends to flood out.