Stuttgart will be desperate for the points to lift themselves away from trouble in the Bundesliga on Friday evening, when they welcome Mainz 05 to the Mercedes Benz Arena.
Whilst the hosts have lost their last three league games in a row, the visitors are unbeaten in four matchdays as they continue their fine start to the 2021-22 campaign.
Despite Stuttgart putting in an improved display at Signal Iduna Park on Saturday, Die Roten still came away empty handed after falling 2-1 to Borussia Dortmund.
Pellegrino Matarazzo’s side were unfortunate not to take the lead inside the opening 45 against the title challengers, and showed spirit to equalise through Roberto Massimo shortly after Donyell Malen had given the hosts the lead shortly before the hour mark.
However, Marco Reus’s goal five minutes from time was enough to dampen their spirits and inflict on them their third straight defeat in the Bundesliga, as well as fourth defeat in a row across all competitions.
Matarazzo will be keen to focus on the positives from the better performance, although there have been very few of those during a miserable start to the campaign.
After finishing ninth on their return to the German top flight last season, Stuttgart find themselves in the relegation playoff spot of 16th heading into matchday 13 this time around, with just two wins to show for their efforts so far.
A host of injury problems, as well as some notable player departures in the summer, have hampered Matarazzo’s plans, but with several players due to return from lengthy absences in the coming weeks, hope is on the horizon for the American boss and his side, and a win on Friday would go a long way towards getting back on track to achieve a successful league place like the 2020-21 campaign.
Meanwhile, whilst there remains plenty of doom and gloom around their hosts on Friday, Mainz head into this encounter in continued high spirits, despite a failure to win in back-to-back home games either side of the international break.
Successive 1-1 draws against Borussia Monchengladbach and FC Koln at the Opel Arena have left the Carnival side in eighth place ahead of their trip to Stuttgart, with just three points separating themselves and Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League places.
After being rooted to the bottom of the table up until January last campaign, few could have dreamt of a much better start to this season under manager Bo Svensson, but the Danish boss’s remarkable record in charge of Die Nullfunfer since taking over at the turn of the year means the impressive start is perhaps not so surprising.
A solid defensive structure, with an aggressive pressing style of football, has worked wonders at Mainz, and currently possessing the second-best defensive record across the division after 12 fixtures provides strong evidence to that.
Robin Zentner has been vital in goal, but the back three of Jeremiah St Juste, Moussa Niakhate and Alexander Hack, who has filled in for Stefan Bell admirably, have been excellent under Svensson, and conceding just the 12 goals so far has been the reward for their performances.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the pitch, the form of Jonathan Burkardt and Karim Onisiwo up front has kept Adam Szalai out of the team, with their strong partnership proving crucial on many occasions already, and the duo will once again be key in Stuttgart on Friday.
Stuttgart Bundesliga form:
Stuttgart form (all competitions):
Mainz 05 Bundesliga form:
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We say: Stuttgart 1-1 Mainz 05
Despite Stuttgart’s troubles of late, we are predicting a draw in this one on Friday, with very little between these sides on their day.
Were Mainz at home, we would be predicting a narrow victory, but we can see them having to settle for a third successive 1-1 draw at the Mercedes Benz Arena, although this could all depend on who scores the vital first goal.