Two of the Bundesliga's form teams meet this Friday night (kick-off: 20:30CET/19:30GMT) as 1. FSV Mainz 05 and FC Schalke 04 look to keep up the pressure in the race for Europe.
Mainz are on the cusp of the qualifying berths for Europe next season as the latest incumbent of a seat which has already accommodated Jürgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel shows signs of replicating their successes. After victory at Hannover 96 last time out, Martin Schmidt has lifted Mainz to within two points of the top six and only three behind their guests this Friday night.
Expectations are always high in Gelsenkirchen, on the other hand, and Schalke coach Andre Breitenreiter is slowly starting to deliver, with livewire Leroy Sane and a rejuvenated Klaas-Jan Huntelaar leading the push for a return to the UEFA Champions League next season. Victory over VfL Wolfsburg on Matchday 20 continued a recent upward curve, and the Royal-Blues approach this one full of confidence.
Matchday 21 - match facts
- Only Mainz, Schalke and VfB Stuttgart in the Bundesliga have won their last two matches.
- Mainz have already won as many games this season as they did in the whole of the last campaign (nine).
- Schalke have reduced the arrears on third place from six to two points in just two Matchdays.
- The Royal Blues have already won more games away from home this season (four) than the whole of last season (three).
- Die Nullfünfers have prevailed in only one of their last nine meetings with Schalke – this same fixture last season (2-0).
- Geis left the Coface Arena for Schalke last summer having contributed 18 goals from his free-kicks in 67 games.
- This is already Mainz's sixth Friday night match of the season. Schmidt's men have averaged two points in these fixtures – better than over all their other fixtures.
Mainz: Karius - Donati, Balogun, Bell, Bussmann - Baumgartlinger, Latza - Clemens, Malli, Jairo - Cordoba
Absentees: Soto, Muto (both knee), Klement (thigh)
Schalke: Fährmann - Junior Caicara, Neustädter, Matip, Kolasinac - Geis, Goretzka - Sane, Meyer, Choupo-Moting - Huntelaar
Absentees: Nastasic (Achilles), Höger (knee), Höwedes (muscular), Uchida (light training)