Munich - 1. FSV Mainz 05 and Greuther Fürth have never met in Germany's top flight, but when the two sides clash on Friday evening (kick-off 20:30 CET), the hosts will be hoping they've left their Clover Leaves curse back in Bundesliga 2.
In their 22 league encounters thus far, the Nullfünfer have only taken all three points on five occasions against the newly-promoted side. "In the history of Fürth and Mainz we've always been an uncomfortable opponent to play against," said Greuther midfielder Milorad Pekovic, who is still remembered as a fan favourite at Mainz having spent four years with the club.
Mainz are still searching for their first win on home soil since April. Following their half-hearted showing in the 1-1 draw SC Freiburg on the opening day of the 2012/13 season, the pressure is on Thomas Tuchel and Co. to give their fans something to cheer about. "It's our duty to produce a top performance. We want to inspire our fans," said the 39-year-old head coach, who knows that there are "more pleasant fixtures than playing under the floodlights in Mainz on a Friday evening".
Tuchel's confidence is resonating through the team and striker Adam Szalai was clear on the directive ahead of Mainz's first home game of the new season. "We definitely want to be dominant in this match and of course we want to hold onto all three points in front of our own fans," said the Hungarian international during an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com. The only player unavailable for selection within FSV's ranks is back-up goalkeeper Heinz Müller as he continues to recover from a thigh injury.
For the visitors a 3-0 loss against record titleholders FC Bayern Munich on Matchday 1 was no indication of what they are truly capable of and Marco Caligiuri, a former Greuther player, believes his old club have a lot in common with Mainz. "Fürth could be a mini-Mainz," said the 28-year-old, while Pekovic, his opponent of Friday, went on to qualify the statement: "It's just that the Mainz are little bit bigger than us and a few more years down the line."
Head coach Mike Büskens, who will be without Zoltan Stieber, was inclined to agree with the 35-year-old. "We're expecting to face a club who can provide a model for Fürth to follow in the coming years," explained the 1997 UEFA Cup winner. "Mainz will generally defend high up the pitch and play with a quick tempo. We need to set ourselves up to cope with that and find simple solutions." However, while Büskens believes he knows what to expect from Fürth's hosts, Tuchel is far less certain: "It's pure speculation as to how they'll play against us."
Mainz: Wetklo - Bungert, Kirchhoff, Noveski, M. Caligiuri - Baumgartlinger, Soto - N. Müller, Ivanschitz, Choupo-Moting - Szalai
Fürth: Grün - Nehrig, Kleine, Mavraj, Schmidtgal - Fürstner, Prib - Sararer, Tyrala, Klaus - Fall