Mainz - 1. FSV Mainz 05 starlet Jairo Samperio is finally hitting his stride with Martin Schmidt's side this season: just in time for the visit of Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 9.
Indeed, the 22-year-old's confidence, much like his team's, is underlined by his bullish approach to the weekend’s headline tie. "Apart from Bayern, anyone can beat anyone [in the Bundesliga]," he told Radio Marca on Sunday.
Mainz's impressive start to the season was checked by defeats to Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Bayern München on Matchdays 6 and 7, although Martin Schmidt's men responded by beating SV Darmstadt 98 in a thriller last time out. It was a game in which die Nullfünfers, with Jairo influential, rediscovered the youthful flair and joie de vivre which so characterises their attacking play.
"After we've played Dortmund, we'll have played all the top teams and will have really given it a good go," said Jairo, whose link-up play with fellow youngsters Yunus Malli and Yoshinori Muto caught the eye throughout the win in Darmstadt.
"Yunus Malli's huge ability has taken me by surprise," he added. "As for Muto, his qualities make you think that he’s going to be a really important player for us. I was the first to welcome him here at Mainz when we shared a room."
Eye for goal
Alongside Malli and Muto, Jairo is the third member of the attacking midfield trident of which current Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel will be wary on Friday evening. Indeed, there was plenty of excitement around the Spaniard when he left UEFA Europa League winners Sevilla FC for the Coface Arena in summer 2014.
While it has taken him a year to settle fully in Mainz, two assists and a goal in the league this season as well as a crucial strike against Energie Cottbus in the DFB Cup underline that the Spaniard is finally finding his feet. "I love being at Mainz," he concluded. "After taking a year to adapt, I notice that it's all going better now." Dortmund have been warned.