Karim Onisiwo and Jonathan Burkardt have formed a deadly frontline for Mainz. - © Alex Grimm/Getty Images
Karim Onisiwo and Jonathan Burkardt have formed a deadly frontline for Mainz. - © Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Are Mainz's Jonathan Burkardt and Karim Onisiwo currently the best strike partnership in the Bundesliga?


Combine an eagle-eyed goal creator with a predatory poacher and you have what, for Mainz at least, is a recipe for success.

Football can be quite a simple game, really. It all boils down to scoring more goals than your opponent. To do that, you need two vital ingredients: somebody to deliver the killer passes and somebody to put the ball into the back of the net.

In Karim Onisiwo and Jonathan Burkardt, Mainz have two of the best in the Bundesliga in those respective departments. Put them together and you have 'Jonisiwo', currently one of the best strike partnerships in the league.

Onisiwo has four assists this season and Burkardt five goals – eight, when you add the three he has plundered in the DFB Cup. Together, they have had a hand in 60 per cent of Mainz's league goals. Take them out of the equation and you are left with just six goals and a team fighting for survival rather than one pushing for a place in Europe next season.

Watch: Mainz's rising star Jonathan Burkardt

Of course football is not as simple as that. Defending is just as important an aspect of the game and the fact the 05ers have conceded 11 this term is one reason why they are 'only' seventh after almost a third of the campaign, but Bo Svensson is certainly getting a lot right with his attacking duo striking fear into their opposition.

"Onisiwo was able to do as he pleased today," grumbled Augsburg goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz after his side went down 4-1 to 'Jonisiwo'. "He was like [Robert] Lewandowski against the whole of the league."

In that game, the Austrian scored one and created two while Burkardt, under the watchful eyes of Germany coach Hansi Flick – as intrigued as anybody by the country's U21 captain's form in the league this season – bagged a brace.

"Both were involved in three goals and also did a lot for the team," said Svensson. "They were always helping out in our own half and I'm delighted for them and for the way they helped the entire team."

It was Burkardt's first Bundesliga brace in his 50th outing in Germany's top flight, although he would have preferred to have taken the ball home with him. "I'm happy with my performance, but it can always get better and there were other chances where my first touch was not perfect to make it an even bigger chance.

"Effectiveness is something I'd like to work on."

For Svensson, Burkardt's effectiveness this season is part of an overall improvement he has been working hard on eliciting from the U21 forward.

"Everybody can see that Jonny's in good form now and it was always clear to me that this would happen, the only question I had was when?" Svensson said. "When I came back here, I singled him out as a player who had improved but was still not scoring enough, and that was the only thing he was lacking.

"I saw his huge potential when he was 15 or 16 and the only issue was the psychological side, and he's taken huge strides forward – but his development is not over yet."

According to Marcus Ingvartsen, the whole team is now benefitting from their form – even if he, as a result, is having to spend more time on the bench.

"Jonny and Karim were great against Augsburg and Bielefeld and that's how it should be, that we all push ourselves to perform," he said. "It's very important that we inspire each other to work even harder – it's a healthy competition between us."

Watch: Mainz 4-1 Augsburg - highlights

Consequentially, the goals are raining in and while Onisiwo may prefer to have a few more on his own account, he has nothing against being the provider. "We're getting to know each other better and better and have also moved closer to each other," Onisiwo told SWR of his blossoming partnership with Burkardt. "Our combinations have been really good of late and it helps you to develop an even greater friendship and understanding when things are going so well.

"You can see that we play well together and we've now got to keep it going."

If they do that, the sky's the limit for the 05ers, who were rooted to the foot of the Bundesliga a year ago and were being written off as relegation certainties.

Thanks to 'Jonisiwo', there is a much brighter outlook around the city.