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Match Preview: Mainz Visit Dortmund Once Again

Reach out to your therapists, it is time to be reminded of last year’s 2-2 draw against Mainz

1. FSV Mainz 05 v 1. FC Heidenheim 1846 - Bundesliga Photo by Neil Baynes/Getty Images

Terzic’s legacy is on the line. Rumors are saying it’s a must-win game for the Dortmund coach. All he and his Dortmund side need to do is win against a visiting Mainz side. Wait - where have I heard this before?

Unlike the bitter 2-2 draw that our therapists are tired of hearing about, today’s match sees a Dortmund side that is out of the title race take on a relegation-threatened Mainz side. Terzic and his men have failed to win in any of the last five matches. More importantly, however, is that Dortmund have had only one win in the Bundesliga since Halloween (1W, 2D, 3L). Today’s match will seek to end 2023 on a high note and, hopefully, exorcise Dortmund’s demons from the end of last season. Regardless of what happens, Dortmund will have almost a month off after today’s match and, hopefully, some time to regroup.

On the other hand, Mainz have only one win in the Bundesliga this entire season. After two seasons of challenging for the Conference League, Mainz are firmly in the relegation zone. They’ve replaced their head coach, Bo Svensson, back in November and now are attempting to claw their way away from the bottom of the table. Mainz's biggest problem has been their ability to score goals with only 12 goals this season or about 0.8 per match. Their defense, while also bad, has conceded 27 goals this season. It’s a very winnable game but it would be no surprise if Mainz come to the Westfalenstadion and park the bus.

Player to Watch: Sepp Van Den Berg

SV Darmstadt 98 v 1. FSV Mainz 05 - Bundesliga Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images

It is really difficult to find a player to watch for this Mainz side. They sold some of their best talent including Anton Stach, brought underperforming players in, and are riddled with injuries. I’ve gone with Sepp Van Den Berg as my player to watch quite simply because this kid is talented. On loan from Liverpool and once touted as the next Van Dijk, Den Berg has been quietly putting on a good developmental season for Mainz. I’m sure we’ll be seeing him a lot in today's match as Mainz will be playing in a low block. He is also ridiculously good in the air, boasting a 69% (nice) aerial win rate and features in the 99th percentile of headers won per match across all defenders in the top five leagues. I doubt we’ll be seeing a headed goal in today’s match.

Lineup Prediction: 4-3-3

To be brutally honest - I doubt we’ll be seeing any changes in today's lineup apart from Hummels making his return. Terzic should be tinkering with his squad because something is wrong but Dortmund is one match away from the winter break. I am picking Füllkrug to lead the line with JBG and a discontent Donyell Malen to play his last game for the club. In midfield, Reus and Brandt will feature in front of Can in an effort to break down Mainz’s low block. I think Gio would be great here and we could be surprised - or surprised that Özcan is starting next to Can despite Dortmund’s need for goals. The only change I foresee in defense is Süle being replaced by Hummels.

Score Predictions: 2-2 Draw

I’m predicting a 2-2 draw here where Fullkrug misses a penalty, Mainz will grab two early goals on either side of the penalty, and Dortmund have a late resurgence but is unable to win. Goals from Bensebaini in the 69th (nice) and Sule in the 96th.