- Wolfsburg face Bundesliga dilemma between two Champions League fixtures.
- Mainz can practically end the Wolves' hopes of catching them with a win.
- Martin Schmidt's men are themselves on course for Europe next season.
Fresh from beating Real Madrid CF in the UEFA Champions League, VfL Wolfsburg face another tough test when 1. FSV Mainz 05 come calling this Saturday (kick-off 18:30CEST/16:30GMT) in a game broadcast on the FOX network in the United States.
bundesliga.com has the lowdown on the clash at the Volkswagen Arena between two Europe-chasing teams…
A Real dilemma
After beating Real Madrid CF 2-0 in the first leg of their historic first UEFA Champions League quarter-final appearance, the Wolves could arguably have done with a day off rather than hosting a team looking to pip them to a place in next year's blue riband club event. Instead, however, there is no let-up, with their preparations for Tuesday's trip to Spain interrupted by what would otherwise be the most important game of their season. Themselves hunting Europe, 1. FSV Mainz 05's hard-running, never-say-die attitude could prove dangerous if the Wolves are anything less than fully focused on the task at hand.
Indeed, the clash with Mainz rivals the return leg at Real Madrid in terms of importance for last year's Bundesliga runners-up. The gap to fourth place, and Champions League qualification again next season, has grown to seven points. With six matches still to be played, defeat at home to Mainz would effectively end Wolfsburg's hopes of closing that gap and force Dieter Hecking's men to put all of their eggs in that one Estadio Santiago Bernabeu basket on Tuesday – they can qualify for the Champions League next season by winning it this year, after all.
Mainz the Bayern slayers
Beating Mainz is anything but easy, though. Just ask the Bundesliga's other representatives in the Champions League: FC Bayern München. The champions' one and only defeat at the Allianz Arena this season came at the hands of the tactically-astute 05ers. Having proven they can ransack one of the most impenetrable fortresses in German football already this season, Martin Schmidt's troops will be keen to make the Volkswagen Arena another. Mainz have beaten all but two of the current top seven sides in 2016, as if that was not enough of a warning for Wolfsburg.
Mainz's exploits this season have given them very good reason to believe they can qualify for Europe next season - and not necessarily just the UEFA Europa League either. Only one point separates Schmidt's troops from fourth-placed Borussia Mönchengladbach, and with their remaining games all against sides from the lower half of the table – aside from a final day Coface Arena clash with Hertha Berlin – Mainz will fancy their chances of heading into that game in the mood for a Champions League qualification decider.
The goalscoring burden has not fallen on the shoulders of just one player at either Wolfsburg or Mainz this season. As the Wolves prepare to welcome back their top scorer Bas Dost (seven goals) from injury, they can draw heart from the contributions made by Julian Draxler (six goals), Max Kruse (six) and Andre Schürrle (five). Mainz's sharpest shooter is Yunus Malli with ten, but Yoshinori Muto (seven), Jairo Samperio (six) and Christian Clemens (five) ensure that the goals can come from anywhere in Schmidt's squad.