Mainz - After losing a handful of key players prior to the start of the 2013/14 campaign, 1. FSV Mainz 05 were determined not to set the bar too high for themselves this season.

And given the departures of Adam Szalai, Andreas Ivanschitz, Marco Caligiuri, Marcel Risse and Anthony Ujah, the team - now in their fifth consecutive season in Germany's top flight - have done remarkably well to steer clear of trouble.

Mainz burst out of the blocks back in August, with (pictured) seemingly scoring at will and three straight victories keeping the side level on points with the big boys. The fairytale was ended by a subsequent run of five defeats in their next six games, but stability was eventually recovered and Thomas Tuchel's men are now in ninth spot on 24 points, five ahead of tenth-placed VfB Stuttgart.

Filling boots as big as those of departed forward Adam Szalai was never going to be an easy task at Mainz, and initially struggled to fill the void, managing just one goal in his first nine league outings. However, the Japanese international exploded onto the scene after that, netting seven in the last eight games of the year to help lift Mainz up the standings, even winning bundesliga.com's Player of the Week award for Matchday 17.

That Thomas Tuchel is a wily tactical fox has been well known in the Bundesliga for years now, but it seems this season he has an extra special knack of knowing when to make his substitutions. is currently the league's most lethal supersub, or Joker, as the term is known in Germany, having netted four times off the bench.

"Attention, this is no joke! Stop the thief!" read a statement from Mainz on Twitter and Facebook on 27 November. "Last night, ’s car was stolen in Mainz-Gonsenheim. Wanted: a black BMW X5, registration MZ-SK 422. M05 will reward anyone who helps lead the police to the perpetrator - or the car - with a VIP season ticket for next season."

may have been limited to just six Bundesliga appearances this term - most of them as a substitute - but the 20-year-old forward is a real crowd pleaser, seeking the most direct route to goal whenever he gains possession. His speed and fearless running mean he is a handful for any opponent: just ask FC Bayern München. The youngster put Mainz 1-0 up against the Bavarians on Matchday 9.

Check out Shinji Okazaki's Player of the Week winning exploits on Matchday 17 courtesy of the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: