Hanover - When you go by the name 'Müller' in Germany, then you almost carry the obligation of scoring goals. 1. FSV Mainz 05’s Nicolai is no exception as he looks to cement his place at the top of the Bundesliga goalscoring charts against Hannover 96 on Saturday (kick-off 15:30 CEST).
Müller enjoying the moment
Müller has already found the back of the net four times this season, and he has a good record against Hannover, having struck three in his last three appearances against the Lower Saxons. Hannover boss Mirko Slomka probably knows who presents the most danger to his side this weekend.
Müller’s last game against the 96ers was one to remember. The 25-year-old scored both goals in the 2-2 draw at the HDI Arena in May, a display that helped earn him his first call-up to the Germany squad for a post-season tour of the USA. Not one to rest on his laurels, Müller has hit the ground running this term, scoring in all three league games, with Thomas Tuchel’s side making a perfect start to the season.
Inevitably, Müller's performances are marking him out as one of the country's most promising talents, but the man himself is keeping his feet on the ground, as he told bundesliga.com last week. “I’m just hitting the ball well and enjoying the moment,” he said.
As a result of his sure-footedness, Mainz are on course to replicate their feat from three years ago when they started out with seven wins in a row, going on to clinch a berth in the UEFA Europa League. “Of course we’ve got the belief that we can play another good game,” said Tuchel, who says the best is still to come from his side. “We still have room for improvement and, week by week, we will try to reach our absolute maximum."
The three wins in a row have given Mainz “huge ambition”, according to Tuchel, who has also praised the “unity and desire” of his team. All three attributes will be tested by a Hannover side who have turned their HDI Arena into a fortress once again, FC Schalke 04 the latest victims a week ago, thanks in part to a goal from Mame Diouf.
The 25-year-old has become even more crucial to the Reds following the departure of Mohammed Abdellaoue in the summer and he will be looking to build on his 18 goals for the club, one of which he scored in the corresponding fixture last season. He has been rather reliant on assists from Szabolcs Huszti, but service will have to come from elsewhere as the Hungarian is suspended.
Diouf himself is not entirely certain to start due to a thigh strain. “We have a question mark over him,” admitted coach Slomka, who nevertheless does not see his side’s chances of success diminishing if the former Manchester United man is ruled out. “We are very strong at home and we’re self-confident,” he added.
Hannover: Zieler - Sakai, Marcelo, Sané, Pocognoli - Stindl, Andreasen - Bittencourt, Prib - Sobiech, Diouf
Mainz: Müller - Pospech, Svensson, Noveski, Park - Baumgartlinger - Geis, Zimling - Müller - Okazaki, Choupo-Moting