bundesliga.com has the lowdown on Schmidt's first match since penning a three-year contract extension on Wednesday...
Mainz may not be staring relegation right in the face going into the Matchday 30 encounter, but with a seven-point advantage over 16th-placed SC Paderborn they are still in need of a few more points to guarantee top-flight football next season. Schalke, meanwhile, are looking to edge closer to a place in next season's UEFA Europa League.
The 05ers received a welcome boost in midweek with midfielder Ja-Cheol Koo (l.) and defenders Niko Bungert and Stefan Bell all returning to team training following minor injuries. Pablo de Blasis has been tipped as a hot candidate to return to the starting XI in place of fellow winger Jairo.
Head coach Roberto Di Matteo has Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (r.) and Matija Nastasic back available after the star pair missed last weekend's 1-1 draw away to VfL Wolfsburg through injury, with both likely to return to the Royal Blues starting XI on Friday. Schalke will have to do without injured right-back Atsuto Uchida, however.
Shinji Okazaki has been the Carnival Club's standout player this season and has overcome his recent dip in form, netting six in the last eight matches. The Japan frontman netted a brace in the recent 3-2 success at SC Freiburg, earning his side three important points against their fellow relegation battlers.
Despite having had to sit out much of the season with a knee injury and only enjoying his first competitive appearance in the Matchday 26 loss to Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Jefferson Farfan (r.) has been in impressive form indeed for Schalke, making an immediate impact and playing his first full 90 minutes at Wolfsburg last week.
Schmidt, head coach: “This is yet another big game, a final. I don't think we're on an equal footing with [Schalke], we're the underdogs. But if everyone gives it their all we can certainly get something against them!”
Di Matteo, head coach (r.): “We still need to collect points in order to secure a Europa League place. Mainz are a side that are tough to break down.”
Roman Neustädter: “Games against Mainz are never easy. Shinji Okazaki is a dangerous striker.”
Mainz bounced back from a three-game winless run to snatch maximum points away to Freiburg on Matchday 29 and take a huge step in the relegation battle, while Schalke have seen their chances of booking a place in next seasons Champions League fade away, having failed to win any of their last five matches.
Schalke attacking gem Max Meyer is set to make his 60th appearance against the side he made his Bundesliga debut against in an entertaining 2-2 away draw two years ago. The Royal Blues won 4-1 in this season's reverse fixture. They have won ten and only lost three of the sides' 17 top-flight encounters so far.
Mainz: Karius - Brosinski, Bungert, Bell, Park - Baumgartlinger, Geis - de Blasis, Malli, Koo - Okazaki
Schalke: Fährmann - Höwedes, Matip, Nastasic, Kolasinac - Neustädter, Höger - Farfan, Meyer, Choupo-Moting - Huntelaar