Bayern Munich welcome Mainz to the Allianz Arena on Sunday for a key match in the Bundesliga title race.
The Bavarians have had mixed fortunes in the last week, overtaking rivals Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table before being emphatically knocked out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage. They will still be reeling from that 3-1 defeat to Liverpool, but must refocus on domestic matters if they are to get their season back on track.
Opponents Mainz currently sit 13th in the Bundesliga standings and go in to the match in terrible form. They have lost four of their last six games, with a number of those results looking somewhat embarassing for Sandro Schwarz's men.
Here's 90min's preview of the match.
Where to Watch
|When is Kick Off?||Sunday 17 March|
|What Time is Kick Off?||17:00 (GMT)|
|Where is it Played?||Allianz Arena|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||BT Sport 2|
Niko Kovac has three injury concerns for the match on Sunday. Attacking midfielder Meritan Shabani has a muscular problem that he picked up last weekend and is unlikely to be available. Corentin Tolisso is close to a return from the cruciate ligament rupture that has kept him out since September, but will probably be given more time to recover.
Arjen Robben will also be missing for the clash due to a calf strain. Aside from the Dutchman and the two midfielders, Kovac has a full compliment from which to choose, with no suspensions depriving him of players.
Mainz have two fresh injury worries in the form of forward Issah Abass and winger Gerrit Holtmann. The German picked up a knock in the week, whilst Abass' season has been ended by a hamstring tear. They will join three other players on the sidelines for Die Nullfünfer.
Goalkeeper Rene Adler and full-back Phillipp Mwene have been unavailable due to serious knee injuries since May and November, respectively. Emil Berggreen completes the list for Schwarz, the forward continuing rehab after a muscular tear.
|Bayern Munich||Neuer; Kimmich, Hummels, Süle, Alaba; Goretzka, Thiago, Gnabry, James, Coman; Lewandowksi.|
|Mainz||Müller; Brosinski, Bell, Niakhite, Martin; Gbamin, Kunde, Latza; Boetius, Quaison, Mateta.|
Head to Head Record
The visitors have not won any of the last five meetings between these two, securing just one draw in that run. However, they did push the Bundesliga champions hard in December, Jean-Paul Boëtius's goal not enough to spare them a 2-1 defeat after scores from Leon Goretzka and Thiago Alcantara.
The men from the Rhine were hammered 4-0 the last time they played at the Allianz Arena. Despite that, they will be encouraged by their previous two matches at the stadium. They took all three points in March 2016 and then secured an impressive draw one year later.
Robert Lewandowski is a man to keep an eye out for during the clash; the Pole has netted 13 goals in his last 12 against Sunday's opposition.
The overall record is heavily in Bayern's favour. They have emerged victorious on 17 occasions in the past, falling to defeat just four times. A further three games have finished level over the course of history.
Though they were unceremoniously dumped out of the Champions League in midweek, the hosts have hit something of a purple patch of late. They have only failed to win one of their last 13 matches in the league, with last weekend's 6-0 demolition of Wolsfburg being Kovac's largest winning margin in the Bundesliga.
That run of form has taken them to first position after months of having to chase Dortmund. However, they will have had their confidence severely damaged by events against Liverpool on Wednesday night.
In stark contrast to Bayern, Mainz have been misfiring since the winter break. They have taken a disappointing six points from the last 21 available and have had to endure some painful results during that time.
A 5-1 home loss at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen severely dampened the mood at the Opel Arena, with the following week's defeat at lowly Augsburg only worsening things.
Here's how the sides got on in their last five fixtures:
|Bayern Munich 1-3 Liverpool (13/2)||Mainz 0-1 Borussia Mönchengladbach (09/2)|
|Bayern Munich 6-0 Wolfsburg (09/2)||Hertha Berlin 2-1 Mainz (02/2)|
|Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-5 Bayern Munich (02/2)||Mainz 3-0 Schalke (23/2)|
|Bayern Munich 1-0 Hertha Berlin (23/2)||Wolfsburg 3-0 Mainz (16/2)|
|Liverpool 0-0 Bayern Munich (19/2)||Mainz 1-5 Bayer Leverkusen (08/2)|
Interestingly, Bayern have the oldest squad in the league, whilst their opponents have the youngest. That inexperience could cost Schwarz's men as they will have to be impeccable in all areas if they are to overcome this powerful Bavarian machine.
Unfortunately for Mainz, the possibility of an upset looks unlikely given their fortunes of late. Bayern should have more than enough to secure a straightforward victory that will keep them on track for a seventh consecutive league title.
Prediction: Bayern 3-0 Mainz