FC Schalke will look to continue their winning momentum when they host 1.FSV Mainz at the Veltins Arena on Friday night.
Schalke are currently one of the most in-form sides in the Bundesliga prior to the start of Matchday 5. After a rusty start to the campaign, the Royal Blues have won their last two matches against Hertha Berlin and Paderborn. They scored eight goals in those two matches, which is almost 25% of what they managed throughout the entirety of last season.
The Ruhrpott giants will seek to continue their excellent run of form when they meet Mainz at the Veltins Arena on Friday. A win against the Carnival outfit could potentially help them get level on points with league leaders RB Leipzig and put them ahead of arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund
Mainz, meanwhile, haven’t performed all too well so far, collecting just three points in four matches. They did, however, secure their first win of the campaign at home against Hertha Berlin last weekend, which should give them the much needed confidence.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we take a look at both these sides ahead of this highly anticipated Friday night fixture in the Bundesliga this week.
Team News & Tactics
David Wagner has mostly juggled between a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-4-2 this season. They are actually identical formations, with the secondary striker playing a versatile role. Mark Uth was the one who started against Paderborn last weekend.
The ex-Hoffenheim star is expected to retain his place in the side. He will operate as the secondary striker, just beside the main forward Guido Burgstaller, who is yet to score a single goal in the Bundesliga this term. It will be interesting to see if the 30-year-old manages to find the back of the net this time around.
New signing Benito Raman is injured, which means Wagner will continue with the 4-4-2 shape, with Amine Harit and Daniel Caligiuri retaining their place in the wider-attacking roles. Harit scored a brace in the last game and will be keen to replicate that performance against Mainz this week.
Suat Serdar is pushing for a start in midfield. But, given the nature of the opponent, Wagner is likely to opt for Omar Mascarell. The former Real Madrid midfielder is expected to accompany the ever-present figure of Weston McKennie in the double-pivot.
There will be no changes in defence, meaning marquee signing Ozan Kabak will once again have to settle for a place on the bench. Benjamin Stambouli and Salif Sane will form the central defensive partnership while Jonjoe Kenny and Bastian Oczipka will also continue to feature as fullbacks.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Nubel; Kenny, Sane, Stambouli, Oczipka; Caligiuri, McKennie, Mascarell, Harit; Uth, Burgstaller
1. FSV Mainz 05
Mainz were boosted by the return of first-choice goalkeeper Florian Muller this week. He is back in training after an injury absence. But, starting him against Schalke might be a risk, meaning Sandro Schwarz could persist with Robin Zentner between the sticks.
Schwarz is also unlikely to make any sort of changes to the side that won against Hertha last weekend. That means Aaron Caricol and Daniel Brosinski will continue to occupy the two full-back slots, with Moussa Niakhate and Jeremiah St. Juste, who made quite an impression against Hertha, forming the central defensive partnership.
Pierre Kunde Malong will operate as the lone holding midfielder. He will be tasked with the responsibility of keeping tabs on McKennie, who is known for his driving runs into the final third.
The 24-year-old will be partnered by Danny Latza and new signing Edimilson Fernandes, who has fit in rather well after joining from West Ham United.
Further forward, Jean-Paul Boetius will be featuring as the lone attacking midfielder. The Dutchman is the creator-in-chief for Mainz, and his performance will be key as the visitors look to upset Schalke this week.
And finally, the Mainz attack will be led by Adam Szalai, partnered by Robin Quaison. Szalai has fared well after coming in from TSG Hoffenheim. The Hungarian’s experience will be useful as Mainz look to cope without the services of two of their prime attackers in Dong-Won Ji and Jean-Philippe Mateta.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Zentner; Brosinski, Juste, Niakhate, Caricol; Fernandes, Malong, Latza; Boetius; Szalai, Quaison
- Schalke have won 77% of their Bundesliga home matches against Mainz – more than against any other club they have faced more than eight times in the top-flight.
- Mainz have lost 77% of their trips to Schalke in the Bundesliga – more than against any other team they have faced at least three times in the league.
- Schalke won have all 13 games against Mainz that have taken place in the Hinrunde, although they have tasted victory in three of the 13 Ruckrunde meetings.
- Schalke haven’t won any of their last three games played on a Friday night, however, each of their last two such victories have come against Mainz.
- Schalke scored five goals away from home for the first time this century in their 5-1 win at Paderborn last time out. They last netted five times on the road in May 1999.
Player to Watch
Kenny has made quite an impression in the Bundesliga since arriving at Schalke on a season-long loan deal from Everton. The right-back notably scored his first goal for the club during the 3-0 win over Hertha while he also provided the assist for Schalke’s third goal against Paderborn in the last game.
The young full-back will once again be expected to make an impact this week against Mainz as he seeks to join Jadon Sancho in the list of English players, who are impressing in the Bundesliga. However, defending against the tricky Caricol and Quaison could be a challenge for the 22-year-old.
Schalke 2-0 Mainz
Mainz have been the worst defensive side in the league, having already conceded 13 goals. And their leaky defence could once again be tested by a Schalke team, who have netted eight goals in their last two outings. Additionally, the Royal Blues will have the home advantage, meaning it won’t be surprising to see them coming out as comprehensive 2-0 victors in this game.