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October 31, 2010 2:30 PM GMT
Stadion am Bruchweg — Mainz
Referee:‬ M. Weiner‎
Attendance:‬ 20300‎
Mario Götze 25′
L. Barrios 67′

Bundesliga Preview: Mainz - Borussia Dortmund

Goal.com looks ahead to this titanic clash between the top two in the Bundesliga, with Juergen Klopp back at his old club.

By Gary Niblock

Bundesliga: Borussia Dortmund - Mainz 05 / Markus Feulner & Miroslav Karhan (Bongarts/Getty-Images)
Less Rock And Roll, More Championship Mettle

Rather appropriately from a team based in one of Germany's biggest carnival cities, there has been a fun factor about Mainz this season. The Bruchweg Boys have put smiles on the faces of many neutrals and made many friends along their path to the top of the Bundesliga. There will have been those who cringed at Lewis Holtby and Andre Schuerrle's attempts to rock and roll on German television but Thomas Tuchel's youngsters have been living it up on the pitch all season and enjoying almost every minute.

There is a deeper and more serious side however to Mainz's ascent. When any team is on a roll, if you'll excuse the pun, confidence remains high and the results continue to flow. Yet after taking the knock of a home defeat to the a wily and experienced Hamburg outfit, Mainz showed impressive character to win in the Bay Arena against potential title rivals Bayer Leverkusen. They find themselves again needing to bounce back tomorrow after a surprise cup defeat to border team Alemannia Aachen.

"Football is still played by human beings. Just because we beat Leverkusen, that does not mean we automatically have to beat second division Aachen. The cup has its own rules, that's part of the charm of the thing," remarked Tuchel in the pre-game press conference.

"So I do not understand that it should be an embarrassment for us just because we now beaten the smaller club. We have been giant-killing for weeks now in the league, "he continued.

Rather intriguingly, Tuchel then admitted to perhaps choosing the wrong strategy for the game. Mainz's success has been built upon a unique approach to every match, with considerable player input. Such public self-admonishment is not the sign of a coach who feels his team are temporary squatters at the top of the league. It will be interesting to see whether Tuchel can pluck another rabbit out of the hat, as he did with Andreas Ivanschitz last weekend. Otherwise, Dortmund have an array of players ready to pounce and reclaim the top spot.

Back On Familiar Territory

It has been far from the smoothest week in Dortmund as Der BVB first stumbled to a draw at home to an admittedly impressive Hoffenheim and were then eliminated on penalties in the DFB-Pokal by 3.Liga leaders Kickers Offenbach, whose general manager is none other than Dortmund legend Andreas Moeller. Yet, while it is easy to focus on the negatives, it is expedient to remember that despite a mediocre showing against Hoffe, Dortmund ground out a point (albeit with some controversy) in stoppage time. My colleague Clark Whitney astutely made the point that Dortmund do not know how to manage their way through a game, especially one in which it is not all one-way traffic but that they dug out a slightly undeserved point is reminiscent of Bayern Munich over the years.

Before the start of the season, Klopp made it clear that he was prepared to rotate in order to nurse the players through not only a potentially packed fixture schedule, but also to ensure they can have sufficient rest periods due to Dortmund's all-action style of play, which demands they cover as much ground as possible during the game. Shinji Kagawa is a player who is evidently not accustomed to this intensity in Japanese football and has shown signs in recent games of going off the boil. How Klopp shuffles his pack in the coming weeks up to the winter break may well determine their ability to truly sustain a title assault well into the spring. First though, he must pick his charges up from their surprise midweek cup elimination.

"We had to deal with a rather nasty evening. We have to taste defeat on occasions in order to have the drive to avoid such a repeat in the future," Klopp admitted in the pre-game press conference.

Klopp made reference during his remarks about Mainz's flexible tactical approach but he also pointed out that no matter what system they play, their style of play is rather similar to Dortmund's energetic brand of football and as such tomorrow's game will be won by the side who can out-do the other.

"We don't know exactly what we will be coming up against but we know what we must expect from the rightful leader of the Bundesliga. They are a side full of running, physically strong, very flexible and tactically very well set up."

"Mainz have the advantage of playing at home. But we don't feel outsiders at all."



Thomas Tuchel has not been a manager averse to rotation, much like his opposite number at Dortmund Klopp. He looks set to rest trio Niko Bungert, Miroslav Karhan and Lewis Holtby after the midweek cup defeat to Aachen. Mainz are without injured quintet Florian Heller, Heinz Mueller, Jan Simak, Zsolt Loew and Eugen Gopko.

Probable Starting XI: Wetklo - Zabavnik, Svensson, Noveski, Fuchs - Caligiuri, Polanski, Soto - Allagui, Schuerrle - Szalai

Borussia Dortmund

Juergen Klopp boasts one of the Bundesliga's deepest and broadest squads and it will be tested to the full in the coming weeks. Sebastian Kehl, Tamas Hajnal, Florian Kringe and Mohamed Zidan are all out. Patrick Owomoyela has not yet fully recovered from his injury and there are major doubts over Sven Bender and Jakub Blaszczykowski. Mario Goetze, Antonio da Silva and Marcel Schmelzer all look to have recovered from minor knocks picked up over the last week.

Probable Starting XI: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer - Sahin, Antonio da Silva - Goetze, Lewandowski, Grosskreutz - Barrios.

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Last Five Matches
Team News
Available Squads
29Christian WetkloGoalkeeper
23Christian FuchsDefender
4Nikolce NoveskiDefender
2Bo SvenssonDefender
26Niko BungertDefender
19Elkin SotoMidfielder
8Eugen PolanskiMidfielder
33Marco CaligiuriMidfielder
10Lewis HoltbyMidfielder
28Adam SzalaiStriker
1Martin PieckenhagenGoalkeeper
5Radoslav ZabavnikDefender
18Malik FathiDefender
21Miroslav KarhanMidfielder
21Marcel RisseMidfielder
14Andre SchürrleStriker
25Andreas IvanschitzMidfielder
1Roman WeidenfellerGoalkeeper
29Marcel SchmelzerDefender
15Mats HummelsDefender
4Neven SuboticDefender
26Lukasz PiszczekDefender
19Kevin GroßkreutzMidfielder
18Nuri SahinMidfielder
26Shinji KagawaMidfielder
6Sven BenderMidfielder
19Mario GötzeMidfielder
19L. BarriosStriker
20Mitchell LangerakGoalkeeper
7Markus FeulnerMidfielder
13Damien Le TallecStriker
5Felipe SantanaDefender
9Robert LewandowskiStriker
8Antônio da SilvaMidfielder
Players to Watch
Adam Szalai
Adam Szalai
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 28
Games Goals YC RC
25 6 2 0
Szalai has been riding the crest of a wave in recent weeks and has been elevated to the status of the next great Hungarian hope. For a tall striker, who can put his weight about, he is surprisingly agile and has superb awareness to latch onto the slightest defensive error. If either Mats Hummels or Neven Subotic make the slightest slip, Szalai will make them pay.
Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 9
Games Goals YC RC
30 18 2 0
If Lewandowski gets the nod over Kagawa as looks likely, I think his movement and pace will cause problems for the Mainz backline. Furthermore, he should act as an excellent foil for Lucas Barrios and should be in a position to capitalise on the Paraguay international's almost unstoppable aerial prowess.
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
Robert Lewandowski Robert Lewandowski
18 4
Mario Mandzukic Mario Mandzukic
18 0
Adrian Ramos Adrian Ramos
Hertha BSC
16 3
Josip Drmic Josip Drmic
FC Nürnberg
16 2
Marco Reus Marco Reus
15 5