Mainz - Local pride is at stake as Rhine-Main rivals 1. FSV Mainz 05 and Eintracht Frankfurt meet at the Coface Arena on Sunday afternoon (kick-off 15:30 CET).
Both teams go into the game desperate for three points: Thomas Tuchel's Mainz are without a win since August and have picked up only one point from their last eight Bundesliga outings, while Frankfurt are languishing dangerously close to the relegation zone having won just two of their opening eleven matches.
Ahead of the 38th meeting between the two clubs, Tuchel is confident his team can get back to winning ways against their local rivals, despite a run of form that has seen die Null-Fünfer plunge from fourth to 12th in the league. "I’m really looking forward to the game," said the 40-year-old. "I feel we have a great chance of winning the match and I am very confident we'll do just that."
Not that Tuchel is taking the Eagles lightly: "The fact that Eintracht continue to play good football despite their recent run in the league makes them very dangerous," he explained. "They have developed a team in Armin Veh's image, hitting excellent crosses, which players like Vaclav Kadlec and Alexander Meier often take full advantage of. We have to be on our toes."
Müller misses out
Nicolai Müller is Mainz’s most notable absentee. The club's top goalscorer has suffered a setback in his recovery from an ankle injury and won't be included in the squad. Julian Koch, Niko Bungert and Julian Baumgartlinger all remain sidelined with long-term injuries, while Bo Svensson is unlikely to be risked by Tuchel after suffering an achilles injury against FC Augsburg last weekend. Twenty-year-old Loris Karius will replace the suspended Christian Wetklo in goal.
Tranquillo Barnetta is likely to return for Frankfurt after missing Thursday’s defeat to Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC with the flu. Sebastian Rode has also been declared fit, but doubts remain over the fitness of Sebastian Jung, Stefan Aigner and Bamba Anderson. "We have to wait and see how they do in training before making a decision," said head coach Armin Veh in Thursday’s press conference.
Veh: 'We need a good performance'
Unlike his opposite number, Veh appeared to be feeling the strain ahead of Sunday's all-important clash. "It’s obvious we’re going into the game under a fair bit of pressure," he said. "We have to put in a good performance and make sure we put enough effort into the match. We need a win to boost our confidence, that’s very important for us."
Frankfurt missed the chance to seal their place in the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League after they were beaten 4-2 by Maccabi Tel-Aviv on Thursday evening. When asked if Mainz could prove easier opponents than the Israeli champions, Veh said: “It’s important we focus on ourselves and not waste time thinking about the opposition. We have to play the best we can and focus on doing what we do best."
Mainz: Karius - Pospech, Svensson, Noveski, Park - Geis, Soto - Polter, S. Parker, Choupo-Moting - Okazaki
Frankfurt: Trapp - Celozzi, Russ, Anderson, Oczipka - Rode, Flum - Aigner, Meier, Barnetta - Kadlec
Find out why Mainz fans are beginning to warm to Japanese international Shinji Okazaki by watching this video on the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: