With his side rooted to the bottom of the standings, new Hannover 96 coach Thomas Schaaf is in urgent need of a win when 1. FSV Mainz 05 visit the HDI Arena on Saturday of Matchday 20 (kick-off: 15.30CET/14.30GMT).
Defeats to SV Darmstadt 98 and Bayer 04 Leverkusen have brought home the reality of Schaaf's task at Die Roten, with a win against Mainz this weekend now vital just to stay in touch with the relegation play-off place.
For their part, Martin Schmidt's Mainz bounced back from defeat to FC Ingolstadt 04 on Matchday 18 with a fine display on home turf to see off Borussia Mönchengladbach last time out and will pin their attacking hopes on the duo of Yoshinori Muto and Yunus Malli to rain on Schaaf's parade.
Mainz new boy Muto scored his first two goals for the club to inspire a deserved 3-0 success at home to Hannover 96.
Matchday 20 - match facts
- Hannover have lost the last five games - the worst run of any side in the Bundesliga.
- Schaaf has never begun a coaching tenure this badly. The last Hannover coach to start with back-to-back defeats was Mirko Slomka six years ago.
- There is hope coming into this one, however: Mainz have failed to score in three of the last four away games.
- Furthermore, Hannover have never lost a home game against the 05ers.
- Die Roten, however, have lost four of the last five at the HDI Arena and have the most home defeats (seven) of any side in the Bundesliga.
- Mainz defender Leon Balogun began his top-flight career at Hannover, making his first three appearances between 2008 and 2010.
Hannover: Zieler - Sakai, Milosevic, Schulz, Prib - Hoffmann - Yamaguchi, Bech - Schmiedebach - Hugo Almeida, Szalai
Absentees: Kiyotake (light training), Benschop (knee), Andreasen (ankle), Sorg (knee)
Mainz: Karius - Brosinski, Balogun, Bell, Bussmann - Baumgartlinger, Latza - Clemens, Jairo - Malli - Muto
Absentees: Soto (light training)