Bayern Munich will not be home to celebrate the first two weekends of Oktoberfest, but they can find a different way to celebrate it. Robert Lewandowski was in the spirit earlier this week, and after returning to the top of the table, the Rekordmeister were too.
Now Bayern will want to make sure their jubilance is not short-lived when they travel to Mainz. The Karnivalverein have already dropped some heavy hitters from last season, in convincing fashion too. Quick and clever, Mainz has one of the more adaptable teams in the Bundesliga.
Despite two big matches ahead, manager Pep Guardiola is taking this road test seriously, not wanting his team to take the bait in a potential trap game. He will have to strategize for Mainz's aggressiveness, but this is a straightforward road challenge Bayern can easily overcome.
The Match (21st Meeting)
Location: Coface Arena, Mainz, Germany
Head: Bastian Dankert
FC Bayern: 5 W, 1 D, 0 L – 9 YC, 1 RC
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Television and Streaming:
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Bundesliga: 13 W, 2 D, 3 L
DFB Pokal: 2 W, 0 D, 0 L
Largest Victory: 4-0 (Bundesliga: November 16, 2006, Mainz)
Largest Defeat: 2-3 (Bundesliga: November 27, 2011, Mainz)
The end result from midweek was phenomenal, but lest we forget how terrible Bayern were when Guardiola got too cute. Two substitutions at halftime showed how wrong his tactics were, and the tide changed quickly when he scrapped elusive players for more direct ones.
By the same token, Mainz are going to approach the match the same way Wolfsburg did: packing the defense and trying to move forward on the counterattack. The difference this time is Javi Martínez, a player Guardiola may be more comfortable starting after a strong second half on Tuesday. His presence in defense will make a three-man defense once again a legitimate option, meaning Bayern can win the midfield battle before it even begins.
The attack meanwhile is more straightforward, for the inform players can speak for themselves. Guardiola would not even lose much punch if he decided to rest one of them in favor of Kingsley Coman. Bayern's biggest advantage is their ability and willingness to have Douglas Costa and Mario Gotze flop flanks depending on the need. That is a wrinkle the Robbery area never really had, and provides Bayern with even more fluidity in attack.
"Weird" was the word Guardiola used to describe this matchup, but the outcome would only be weird if Bayern didn't come away with three points.
Projected Lineup (3-4-3 Diamond):
Douglas Costa – Robert Lewandowski – Mario Götze
Arturo Vidal – Xabi Alonso – Philipp Lahm
David Alaba – Jérôme Boateng – Javi Martínez
Bench: Sven Ulreich, Juan Bernat, Rafinha, Sebastian Rode, Joshua Kimmich, Thiago Alcantara, Kingsley Coman
Out/Suspended: Holger Badstuber (thigh), Medhi Benatia (thigh), Jan Kirchhoff (ankle), Franck Ribéry (ankle), Arjen Robben (muscle injury)
Though constantly trapped in mid table obscurity, Mainz has maintained their standing in the Bundesliga despite losing many of their best players. Last season they even did so by collecting the most draws in the Bundesliga last season with Köln and Freiburg, but this season they have managed to take advantage of the misfortune of last year's top clubs.
Manager Martin Schmidt has kept Mainz very organized since his promotion from Mainz's reserves, maintaining a simple double-pivot system that compresses and expands. His adaptable tactics have helped Mainz overcome some of its underwhelming personnel, and the emergence of Yunus Malli has directly impacted their point total so far this season.
Mainz's biggest shortcoming is one it has always been, building up the play and combining in attack. Players like Yashinori Muto and Pablo De Blasis try to take it upon themselves to create, but they become chance killers when they do not combine with their teammates. Mainz often relies on launching the ball forward when the buildup play is lacking, Muto using his hold up play to hold onto the ball. That may work against the soft center backs of Hoffenheim and Borussia Mönchengladbach, but has not worked against the better defenders in the Bundesliga.
Their defensive strength comes in their shape, Mainz often resulting in the two-bank approach when times are tight. Individually their defenders are easy to beat, but the midfield support helps them out in the numbers game. Stefan Bell and Nico Bungert have simple tasks to perform with help in front of them, which is important considering both can get overwhelmed with pressure.
Two of their three victories have come at home this season, but Mainz is going to have a hard time keeping Bayern off the board.
Projected Lineup (4-1-4-1):
Jairo Samperio – Danny Latza – Julian Baumgartlinger – Christian Clemens
Pierre Bengtsson – Stefan Bell – Nico Bungert – Daniel Brosinski
Bench: Gianluca Curci, Gaëtan Bussman, Leon Balogun, Suat Sedar, Shawn Parker, Pablo De Blasis, Florian Niederlechner
Out/Suspended: Fabian Frei (thigh), Elkin Soto (knee)
Mainz will approach the match the same way Wolfsburg did before them, retreating into their own half before trying to break on the flanks. The difference is that Bayern can thrown numbers forward in midfield now that Martínez is back in defense. Mainz have struggled a lot in individual field battles, and that is not good for a team who has reestablished a presence in one-on-one situations.
The Other Action
Köln vs. FC Ingolstadt 04 (Friday, 2:30 PM ET)
Stuttgart vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Werder Bremen vs. Bayer Leverkusen (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Hamburger SV vs. Schalke 04 (Saturday, 12:30 PM ET)
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Hertha Berlin (Sunday, 9:30 AM ET)
Borussia Dortmund vs. SV Darmstadt 98 (Sunday, 11:30 AM ET)
UEFA Champions League Opponents
Leicester City vs. Arsenal (Saturday, 10:00 AM ET)
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Osijek (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET)
Olympiacos vs. PAS Giannina (Saturday, 1:30 PM ET)
|FC Schalke 04||4||1||1||9||5||+4||13|
|Hertha Berliner SC||3||1||2||7||7||0||10|
|1. FC Köln||3||1||2||9||11||-2||10|
|FC Ingolstadt 04||3||1||2||3||5||-2||10|
|1. FSV Mainz 05||3||0||3||9||6||+3||9|
|SV Darmstadt 98||2||3||1||6||7||-1||9|
|Bayer 04 Leverkusen||3||0||3||4||8||-4||9|
|SV Werder Bremen||2||1||3||7||9||-2||7|
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim||0||2||4||5||11||-6||2|