Who doesn’t like a Bundesliga match to break up the work week? In a display of what can only be described as an appalling sense of pacing, the Bundesliga has scheduled a set of midweek matches to make up for the fact that they still felt the need to tack on an extra month to an already long Winterpause after the World Cup. That means that after three months of rest, Bundesliga clubs have been thrown right into a busy schedule; and only four days after defeating Augsburg in their return to league play, BVB now travel to Mainz.
What I would love more than anything is an easy, dare I say boring win. Don’t get me wrong, Sunday’s match was exciting. Watching Gio Reyna break the deadlock in the 78th minute with a spectacular effort was breath-taking. However, it would have been nice if the three disastrous goals that BVB conceded hadn’t necessitated such an effort.
Like Augsburg, Mainz have struggled in the Bundesliga this season, and they currently sit in 12th place, only five points above the relegation zone. Mainz really should be an easy opponent, but the same could have been said of Augsburg, and they turned out to be a much tougher opponent than Dortmund would have liked. If we’ve learned one thing this season, it’s that there’s no such thing as a guaranteed win for BVB.
Mainz Player to Watch: Karim Onisiwo
Normally I would say Jonathan Burkhardt, but he missed last weekend’s match with an injury, and it’s not clear if he will play tomorrow. Dominik Kohr, Mainz’s stalwart midfielder, will also miss the game with a suspension. That leaves pretty slim pickings as far as key players go. I suppose the most dangerous option remaining is Karim Onisiwo, with his whopping four goals and one assist. Onisiwo’s FBRef numbers don’t exactly pop off the page, but he leads the squad in non-penalty goals and his shot-creating numbers are decent, so that’s something.
The most notable absence tomorrow will be Jude Bellingham, who will serve a one-game suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Augsburg. With few other options in midfield for BVB, that means Mahmoud Dahoud, who was on the bench against Augsburg, could make his long-awaited return tomorrow.
This weekend, both Jamie Bynoe-Gittens and Gio Reyna showed that they have the quality to make the starting XI, so I would love to see them get the nod against Mainz, especially given that the squad has had very little rest. That being said, Karim Adeyemi and Donyell Malen have seemed immovable in the starting eleven, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them start again.
One change I would like to see is for Terzic to try out Niklas Süle at right back again. I wasn’t too impressed with Julian Ryerson in his debut, and Süle brings a lot of composure, strength, and stamina to that position. His inclusion would also fit into a natural rotation cycle.
Mainz have been mediocre this season and are missing two of their best players, so there really is no excuse for Borussia Dortmund in this game. I expect a comprehensive win, and I’ll be disappointed with anything closer than a 2-0 victory.