1.FSV Mainz 05 make a trip to one of European football’s most distant outposts when they take on Qäbälä FK of Azerbaijan in tonight’s UEFA Europa League meeting (kick-off 17:00 CEST/15:00 GMT).
'We are very well prepared'
Martin Schmidt and his squad have made a journey of nearly 3,400 km to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, where the Group C match will take place rather than in Qäbälä’s own Qäbälä City Stadium.
The Zero-Fivers were close to taking three points on Matchday 1, but a late equaliser from St Etienne’s Robert Beric ensured a 1-1 draw, while Qäbälä lost 3-1 to Anderlecht in Belgium.
“We played 100% to win against St Etienne and dropped two points at home. We want to make up for that here,” said Schmidt after arriving in Baku during a torrential downpour that delayed his arrival at the 8KM Stadium for his pre-match press conference.
"We are very well prepared. We have had four days of rest since the Leverkusen game, and that has been good for us. It is also still important that we have fresh players like Suat Serdar and José Rodriguez in defensive midfield for the games that rely on more intense, running-heavy games.”
Qäbälä have won all four home outings in this season’s qualifying rounds and play-off for the Europa League and top the Azerbaijan Premier League. They failed to register a victory in last year’s group stage, which included a 3-1 defeat at home to Borussia Dortmund.
- Qäbälä and Maccabi Tel-Aviv are the only sides who have advanced from the first qualifying round to the group stage in the current Europa League.Mainz's record in five away fixtures to date is W1 D3 L1.Qäbälä lost 3-1 and 4-0 to Borussia Dortmund in last year's Europa League.