With the second round of post winter break fixtures already upon us, it’s easy to forget that the Bundesliga was ever gone. Last weekend threw up plenty of surprises up and down the country, the only predictable results being perhaps wins for the top two. Wolfsburg were beaten by 14th-placed Eintracht, Stuttgart defeated Köln, and Werder put three past the Royal Blues in front of their home fans. These results served only to increase the pressure this weekend, as the gap between the top and bottom half of the table has been noticeably cut - just six points separate fourth and tenth position. Two teams who will be hoping to make amends following losses last time out are Borussia Mönchengladbach and 1. FSV Mainz 05, who face eachother in the Friday night fixture.
Mainz are enduring somewhat of a drought at the moment, having picked up just one point from their last three games and without a goal in 284 Bundesliga minutes. Gladbach on the other hand have no floodgate-related issues, having not only scored the third-highest number of goals so this season (35), but also conceded the third-most (33). As André Schubert points out however, ultimately “it’s all about how many points you have,” and not an aesthetically pleasing goal difference.
Schmidt, too, will no doubt see the scoreline as largely irrelevant provided his players get the result at the Coface Arena. Mainz are unbeaten in their last three at home, and are the only team not to have lost against the foals since the start of the 2014/15 season. With Köln, Ingolstadt and HSV all breathing down their necks, a high-enough win would take them into the last Europa League spot - a realistic target for a team with serious attacking threat in the form of Muto and former Gladbach man Malli.
Both teams certainly have a point to prove with Schmidt hoping they don't set a new club record by going four games without a win and Schubert looking to prove that their alarming recent form (18 goals conceded in their last five games) is just a blip. It promises to be an exciting encounter under the floodlights. Kick off: Friday, 20:30 CET.