Munich - FC Bayern München get their Bundesliga title defence back underway at the Allianz Arena against 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 15:30 CEST) and having hit the top of the standings for the first time this season on Matchday 8, Pep Guardiola's men are avowedly determined to remain there.
Tuchel: Bayern "up to a new level"
Three points against the visitors will ensure they do for at least another week and, as tends to generally be the case, history is on FC Bayern's side for this one, with five of the sides' seven league meetings in Munich ending in victory for the hosts. That said, Guardiola will be well aware that Mainz's solitary success to date - 2-1 in September 2010 - was achieved under current coach Thomas Tuchel, who has a highly repsectable overall balance of three wins and a draw in eight outings against the German and European champions.
More germane to this encounter, however, is the fact that Bayern are, if anything, looking even more dominant under their new head coach than they did in their record-breaking 2012/13 campaign. Tuchel certainly believes so, noting at FSV's pre-match press conference that, "I think Bayern took their game up to a new level at Manchester City [in the Champions League] and Leverkusen," before adding that even at their previous level, this would be "a very lopsided contest."
That said, the visitors "won't be giving them anything for free," and Tuchel, renowned as one of the Bundesliga's most innovative tacticians, will reveal the gameplan for this one to his players "very late on, maybe on Friday evening or Saturday morning. It'll be made-to-measure, and be far removed from a home game against Braunschweig." Whatever his plan, the coach will definitely have Bo Svensson and midfielder Julian Gartlinger available again. Top scorer Nicolai Müller is in the squad for Munich but remains a doubtful starter on the back of an ankle injury. His namesake Heinz has not recovered from a lower back problem however and will be replaced between the posts by Christian Wetklo.
Down in Munich, Guardiola has meanwhile been working on his own strategy for Saturday's encounter in splendid near-isolation for the most part, with so many of his squad only just back from national team duty. "Mainz have been able to focus on the game for ten days. We just had our first training session today," he pointed out to the assembled media at the Allianz Arena on Friday. One way or another, the Catalan is gearing up for a "difficult game" against a visiting side who "can play to various systems, are very hard-running and well organised at the back."
With no further injuries accruing during the international break, Guardiola has the pick of the squad who have taken Bayern back to the top. One of them, Franck Ribery, is on the brink of setting a new Bundesliga record - the French wing wizard has not lost on any of his last 38 league outings, an all-time record he shares for the moment with former Hamburg defender Holger Hieronymus.
Bayern: Neuer - Rafinha, Boateng, Dante, Alaba - Lahm - Robben, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Ribery - Mandzukic
Mainz: Wetklo - Pospech, Bell, Noveski, Park - Baumgartlinger - N. Müller, Geis, Zimling, Choupo-Moting - Okazaki
He' out injured for this one, but check out what Mainz keeper Heinz Müller pulled off last time out against Hoffenheim, on the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: