Preview: Mainz 05 vs. Bayern Munich
Mainz 05 take on Bayern Munich in the last-16 of the DFB-Pokal on Wednesday evening, with the Bavarians hoping to win Germany’s domestic cup for the 21st time this season.
Mainz have never made it to the final of the DFB-Pokal, having reached the semi-final in the 2008-09 campaign.
Indeed, that semi-final defeat to Bayer Leverkusen after extra-time remains the furthest Die Nullfunfer have made it in Germany’s main domestic cup, despite remaining in the Bundesliga ever since being promoted in that same campaign.
As such, Bo Svensson must be ruing being drawn against Bayern at the last-16 stage this season, although the reigning Bundesliga champions’ form has stuttered in recent weeks and it may prove a decent time to be facing them.
Svensson’s side ended a winless run of six league games by beating VfL Bochum 5-2 on Saturday, which moved them seven points clear of their opponents, who currently occupy the relegation play-off spot in the table.
While beating Bayern is always a long shot for a team like Mainz, a packed MEWA Arena will be roaring their players on. Should they cause a major upset, they will be dreaming of going all of the way in this competition for the first time in the club’s history.
Bayern, meanwhile, drew 1-1 for the third successive league match since returning from the World Cup in the Bundesliga’s Saturday night game, with Randal Kolo Muani rescuing a point for Eintracht Frankfurt in the 69th minute at the Allianz Arena.
Julian Nagelsmann’s side’s lead at the top of the table has been cut to a solitary point, with Union Berlin, RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund all on winning streaks and ramping up the pressure closely behind them.
As such, the opportunity to compete in a different competition and return to winning ways on Wednesday may be one which the Bavarians relish, even if Nagelsmann would openly admit that the DFB-Pokal is not his team’s priority this season.
However, it remains a competition which the 35-year-old is yet to win, having lost to Dormund in the final with Leipzig two seasons ago before Borussia Monchengladbach overcame his Bayern outfit in the early rounds last season.
Bayern are a trophy-winning machine, with the club’s hierarchy always reluctant to accept failure in any form, so anything less than victory on Wednesday would likely see Nagelsmann face huge scrutiny given his team’s recent poor run of form.
Mainz 05 DFB-Pokal form:
Mainz 05 form (all competitions):
Bayern Munich DFB-Pokal form:
Bayern Munich form (all competitions):
We say: Mainz 05 1-2 Bayern Munich
Bayern will almost certainly travel to Mainz low on confidence given their recent run of draws, which has seen their healthy lead at the top of the Bundesliga almost evaporate.
However, the Bavarians are likely to have too much quality for their opponents even if Nagelsmann does rotate ahead of a busy schedule as expected, but Mainz should make their opponents work hard for their victory.