Bo Svensson's Mainz have blown hot and cold so far in 2022/23 - can the likes of Karim Onisiwo and Jonathan Burkardt help kick them into top gear?
The story so far
Coming into the season on the back of an eighth-placed finish, there was cautious optimism that Mainz could challenge for the European qualification places once more in 2022/23. With almost a third of the campaign gone and the 05ers enjoying an overnight stay in third, the signs were encouraging to say the least.
Svensson's side garnered 18 points across their first 11 matches, but things took a turn for the worse down the calendar year's back straight. Mainz slipped to 11th following successive defeats to Bayern Munich (6-2), Wolfsburg (3-0) and bottom side Schalke (1-0), before stopping the rot and climbing a place with a 1-1 draw against regional rivals Eintracht Frankfurt.
Mainz's topsy-turvy form is reflected in their contrasting points tallies at home and away. They've recorded seven points from as many games at the Mewa-Arena, winning once, compared to 12 from a possible 24 on the road. Only Bayern (17), Frankfurt and Freiburg (both 14) have fared better on their travels.
Svensson will also be keen for his charges to increase their attacking output: they are the second lowest scorers among teams outside the bottom two (19 goals).
Key player: Karim Onisiwo
That's where Onisiwo should come in handy. The Austria international scored three times between Matchdays 1-3, but had to wait until Matchday 11 to add to his tally. Although he's been caught in the club scoring charts by teammate Marcus Ingvartsen, the 30-year-old striker is the fourth hardest-running player in the this season's Bundesliga, making him an invaluable asset in the Mainz attack.
Mainz's first home win of the season was well worth the wait. The 05ers blew fellow Karnevalsverein Cologne away on Matchday 11, hitting five goals without reply. Onisiwo was the star of the show, capping an unplayable individual display with his team's fifth goal.
Watch: Onisiwo orchestrated five-star Mainz's win over Cologne
One to watch: Jonathan Burkardt
Burkardt had to wait until Bundesliga Matchday 15 to open his account for the season. It was the first time the young Mainz forward had hit the back of the net since Matchday 32 of 2021/22, a campaign he ended on 11 goals - six of which fell across a two-month burst. If the dam has broken, it could be raining goals for 'Jonisiwo' in 2023.
View from the camp
"I think where we are in the table is a fair reflection of our performances. There was a bit of a gap at the top, but we were better than the teams that are now a few points behind us. The good thing is that we know that with a few little improvements we could've had three to five points more." - Mainz director Christian Heidel
- Borussia Dortmund (h), 25 January
- Cologne (a), week beginning 14 April
- Eintracht Frankfurt (a), week beginning 12 May
- Bayern Munich (DFB Cup last 16), 1 February
Watch: The Bundesliga is back!
All 2022/23 season reviews:
Augsburg | Bayer Leverkusen | Bayern Munich | Bochum | Borussia Dortmund | Borussia Mönchengladbach | Cologne | Eintracht Frankfurt | Freiburg | Hertha Berlin | Hoffenheim | RB Leipzig | Schalke | Union Berlin | VfB Stuttgart | Werder Bremen | Wolfsburg
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