Borussia Dortmund begins the 34-match trek to Bundesliga glory on Saturday as they welcome Mainz to the Westfalenstadion. After finishing sixth last season, Mainz looks to improve upon their 2015/16 form starting on opening day.
Already, Mainz looks relatively unconvincing this season. In their DFB-Pokal opener against Unterhaching, it took penalties for Mainz to advance, despite starting a majority of first-teamers.
They enter the season losing some big defensive tools - keeper Loris Karius and defensive midfielder Julian Baumgartlinger. The Mainz attack, however, remains powerful and dangerous with new striker Jhon Cordoba entering the mix. Catch up with Mainz by reading their full season preview here.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Offensive pressing and possession
Football is a game of patience and this will definitely be the case on Saturday. Mainz is a team that employs a heavy and tireless offensive press. Dortmund’s opponent will also attempt to hold much of the possession in the match.
KEY TO THE GAME: Let Mainz play into Dortmund’s game.
Mainz will be pushing a lot of men forward in attack, leaving themselves vulnerable at the back. Dortmund found much success on the counter-attack last season and will look to open up the tattered backline of Mainz all game.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Yunus Malli
Malli, once a transfer target of Borussia Dortmund, is a skilled playmaker and winger. His pace and talent on the flanks has consistently led to a slew a chances created and goals. Dortmund will need to watch Malli carefully and should try to limit the amount of crosses he sends into the penalty area.
PROJECTED LINEUP FOR MAINZ:
Cordoba will taking feeder passes from Malli and Clemens all day long, so it will be up to the Dortmund defense to shut them down. At the back, Bell and Balogun will anchor the Mainz defense as Lossl will need some time adjusting to the rigors of the German Bundesliga.
PREDICTION: 2-0 Dortmund
A slow start for BVB but a couple mistakes will cost Mainz on the day.