Munich - Since racing into the UEFA Europa League in 2011, it is no longer a surprise to see 1. FSV Mainz 05 mixing it with the best in the Bundesliga. Yet a sixth-place finish to 2012 exceeds even their own expectations.

Undoubtedly, the reputation of coach Thomas Tuchel is improving constantly. What he has done on a shoestring in Mainz is an example to any ambitious club without the same resources as the more established names, although Mainz's name could well belong to that select group in years to come.

A 3-0 defeat to Schalke 04 on Matchday 5 left Mainz on the brink of the bottom three, and prompted thoughts that the bubble had finally burst. Not likely. Thomas Tuchel, who replaced Jörn Andersen as head coach just four days before the start of the 2009/10 season, seems to have a solution for every situation, and with 10 points from their next four games, business as usual was resumed. Since then, they have not dropped any lower than eleventh.

Adam Szalai has been voted Hungary's Player of the Year by sports writers, and with nine Bundesliga goals this term, it is easy to see why. The award is also in recognition of the way he has fought back from a serious knee injury which sidelined him for a year, and how he now seems to have not only reached the level of performance he was at two seasons ago, but exceeded it.

Andreas Ivanschitz has needed plenty of encouragement from Tuchel this season, also in the form of criticism. "We expect more," said the Mainz coach after defeat to Werder Bremen on Matchday 10. The Austrian might have decided that game all by himself, given the chances that fell his way. Encouragingly, however, the 29-year-old is getting into positions to shoot, and when one goes in, the dominoes could well tumble.

172.6 - The number of kilometres Szalai has covered this season.

34 - How many attempts the Hungarian has needed to score his nine goals.

43 - The amount of shots Ivanschitz has needed for his four goals.

"I get the feeling some people think we just put out the deckchairs and threw the ball in the net these last two years - the job has been a constant challenge for two and a half years." Tuchel after a 2-1 defeat to Werder Bremen still left them tenth after Matchday 10.