Bayern Munich return to action for the first since being crowned Bundesliga champions for a 10th successive season when they travel to Mainz 05 on Saturday.
The visitors wrapped up the title with victory in Der Klassiker last weekend, whilst the hosts were on the wrong end of a thumping as they continue to finish the season poorly.
Although the away record of Mainz has been poor this season, a 5-0 hammering at the hands of a struggling Wolfsburg side last Friday will not have been expected.
With Bo Svensson’s side already 1-0 down early on, Niklas Tauer’s straight red card midway through the first half certainly did not help matters, before an almighty collapse for the remainder of the opening 45 saw Mainz head into the break five goals behind.
A solid defensive display in the second half ensured that the scoreline remained as respectable as possible for Die Nullfunfer, but overall it was another disappointing result that continued the theme of their struggles in the final few weeks of the campaign.
A blistering start to the season saw Mainz making an unlikely challenge for the European spots, but a winless five-match streak means Saturday’s hosts head into matchday 32 in 10th place, with their slim hopes of reaching the top six ending as a result of the heavy defeat at the Volkswagen Arena.
The one positive that the Danish boss can take from his team’s poor run in recent times is the fact that four of the five setbacks have been on their travels, with Mainz returning to the Opel Arena on Saturday boasting the division’s fourth-best home record.
Just two defeats have been suffered, and remarkably only eight goals have been conceded, in their 15 league outings in front of their own supporters this campaign, and Mainz will look to extend that impressive record by spoiling the Bayern party on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Bayern will look to celebrate a 10th successive Bundesliga title in style on Saturday, which they sealed in the perfect fashion by defeating nearest-challengers Borussia Dortmund on Germany’s grand stage last time out.
Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski netted in the opening stages to provide the Bavarians with the early control, and with their visitors putting up little fight despite Emre Can’s penalty shortly after the interval, Bayern strolled to a relatively comfortable victory.
Jamal Musiala sealed the three points with a late strike in the 3-1 scoreline, as Julian Nagelsmann’s side moved to an unassailable 12-point lead at the summit with just three games remaining.
Disappointing early exits in the DFB-Pokal and Champions League mean that only the bare minimum has been achieved in the former RB Leipzig boss’ first season in charge, whilst brief inconsistent spells throughout the league campaign have also been unpunished by the challenging BVB.
However, it cannot be denied that Bayern thoroughly deserve the Bundesliga crown once more, and with no participation in any other competition remaining, full concentration will be on finishing the campaign strongly in the remaining weeks.
Top-goalscorer Lewandowski will also be keen to continue his fine form in the final three games, beginning at Mainz on Saturday, as the Polish striker looks to add to his 33 league goals already netted up to this point.
Mainz 05 Bundesliga form:
Bayern Munich Bundesliga form:
Bayern Munich form (all competitions):
We say: Mainz 05 1-3 Bayern Munich
It is difficult to imagine Bayern taking their foot off the gas here despite having nothing left to play for, so we are predicting an away victory.
The hosts continue to finish the season poorly so they are unlikely to be able to contain the firepower of their visitors, although the intense atmosphere and strong record at the Opel Arena mean they should cause some nervy moments for the champions.