The 2015/16 Bundesliga season is now at the halfway stage, providing the ideal time to take stock of each club's progress so far. Here, bundesliga.com puts 1. FSV Mainz 05 under the microscope.
The story so far
With Shinji Okazaki leaving just prior to the transfer deadline, 1. FSV Mainz 05 seemed to be in a bit of a quandary. Without their goalscoring guarantee from last term, the season already looked compromised.
Up to the plate stepped Yunus Malli and Yoshinori Muto, who between them have ensured even brighter times at Mainz in the first half of 2015/16, scoring eight and even goals respectively. Martin Schmidt's men have been muscling their way among illustrious names such as Bayer 04 Leverkusen, FC Schalke 04 and Borussia Mönchengladbach, and the signs are they have every intention of going the distance.
- Mainz turned an opponent's mistake into a goal a league-high 11 times during the Hinrunde.
- Only two other sides converted a higher percentage of clear-cut scoring chances than Mainz (63.2 per cent).
- The 05ers conceded the fewest number of goals in the opening half-hour of matches (three).
The boots he had to fill were enormous, but Muto has slipped into them with ease. Replacing his compatriot Okazaki, parallels were inevitably going to be drawn between the two, and Muto had a benchmark of 12 goals in 32 appearances to beat.
With half of the season gone, the 23-year-old summer signing from FC Tokyo is well on the way to matching, if not exceeding those lofty expectations. With seven goals to his name already, he needs just five more from the second half of the season to be branded a success. But even if he does not find those goals, he has done more than enough in his first five months in Germany to win over the Mainz faithful, and many more Bundesliga followers besides.
Fitting him out with a four-year contract looks like some extremely wise forward planning by the 05ers indeed.
Remind yourself of Mainz's placing in the standings during the season with our interactive league table. Simply click on the + symbol at the end of each row in the standings for a comprehensive statistical overview.
See how Mainz made mincemeat out of Wolfsburg on Matchday 12, underlining their ambitions this season with a 2-0 win at home.