The 'unbelievable' Shinji Okazaki (l.) came out on top of Matchday 4's battle of the Shinjis against Dortmund's Kagawa (r.)
The 'unbelievable' Shinji Okazaki (l.) came out on top of Matchday 4's battle of the Shinjis against Dortmund's Kagawa (r.)

'Unbelievable' Okazaki wins battle of the Shinjis

Mainz - If there could be just one guarantee ahead of 1. FSV Mainz 05's clash with Borussia Dortmund, then it was that Shinji would be the winner.

Okazaki on fire

That Shinji turned out to be Mainz forward Okazaki with the eponymous Kagawa left empty-handed for the first time since his return to the Bundesliga, as Dortmund tasted a second defeat of the season.

The 29th Bundesliga goal for a man already crowned the most prolific Japanese player ever to grace Germany's top flight ensured Okazaki and Mainz rose to the top of two significant classifications: the Bundesliga table, albeit level on points with pace-setting Paderborn, and the goalscorer's chart respectively.

It was goal number 19 in a Mainz shirt, his previous ten coming for VfB Stuttgart, and it added to the brace he netted against BVB in April. Okazaki, who also celebrated his 100th Bundesliga appearance at the Coface Arena, most certainly likes playing against Dortmund and a closer look at his statistics reveals all.

'He's incredibly good'

Covering almost half a kilometre more than his average this season, winning seven more tackles than his usual ten and with almost ten more touches than he usually manages over 90 minutes (34), the 28-year-old's contribution - his goal notwithstanding - could be easily measured. The rest can be taken from the mouth of his coach and team-mates.

"He's unbelievable," said Danish boss Kasper Hjulmand. "He's a fantastic striker. You can't defend against him because he's always on the move and, at the same time, his finishing is outstanding. He just knows exactly where to be. I was watching every match last year and thinking 'Is this guy just lucky?', but now I've been here for a while and I know he's not lucky, he's just incredibly good."

'Stroke of luck for us'

Fortunately for Mainz goalkeeper Loris Karius, he does not have to defend against Okazaki. "I think everybody could see how important he is for us," said the 21-year-old, who saved a penalty from Ciro Immobile. "How he holds the ball up, how he helps the team - he's sensational. It's hard to fathom how he didn't manage to make it at Stuttgart, but that's a stroke of luck for us."

Kagawa, on the other hand, struggled to find the spark which had ignited his second Dortmund debut a week ago. With fewer shots on goal, touches and passes compared to his player-of-the-week-winning performance from Matchday 3, the 25-year-old's subdued display provided one clue as to why BVB fell short in Mainz.

Fixtures thick and fast

"I'd say we didn't start badly, but then Mainz got into the game better," said Matthias Ginter. "We still had some chances, but it was Mainz who scored the goal at the right time for them. We desperately wanted to win, but now we've just got to move on."

Kagawa will have a chance to set the record straight when BVB face Stuttgart next week, before the big one: the local derby with FC Schalke 04. Okazaki, meanwhile, can most likely hardly wait for next week's Englische Woche such is his form. Eintracht Frankfurt and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim are his next two opponents, and they have both been warned.

Ben Gladwell