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Chasing records

FCB expect ‘awkward match’ in Mainz

Football can be mysterious sometimes, even to Pep Guardiola. Was it a small tactical adjustment? Were the players more fired up? Guardiola was groping for an explanation of Robert Lewandowski’s explosion in the last match against Wolfsburg, but ultimately shook his head. Instead, the head coach turned his attention to a different footballing phenomenon: “For every team there are places where it’s always hard.” Bayern travel to one of those places, Mainz, on Saturday afternoon (Live in English from 15.30 CET on Twitter and Web Radio).

The German record champions have won their last six encounters with Mainz, but it has rarely been a walkover, especially away from home. Bayern won their most recent match in Mainz 2-1 with a last-minute goal and decided the second to last game 2-0 with goals in the 82nd and 86th minutes. “Mainz have very fast players. They’re a very dynamic team, all very aggressive, good counter-attacks, a good coach,” commented Guardiola, aware of his opponents’ strengths.

Focus on Mainz

The subsequent matches against Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League on Tuesday and against “major rivals” Dortmund in the Bundesliga a week on Sunday are far from Guardiola’s thoughts. “There is no Dinamo Zagreb in my head, neither a Dortmund. Mainz are big enough,” the 44-year-old affirmed: “it’s going to be an awkward match.”

“We have to stay focused and go for it,” stressed midweek match-winner Lewandowski before the trip to Mainz. “We start with a 0-0 scoreline as usual,” said Guardiola, before turning to something more exceptional: “We have the possibility to win our seventh game in a row.” In that case Bayern would equal the Bundesliga record of seven victories in the first seven matches. Only four teams have achieved this in 50 years of the modern German top flight, most recently Bayern in the 2012-13 treble season.

No new injuries

Guardiola will field the same squad as for the Wolfsburg clash. Nor are Mainz set for a major reshuffle. “There will certainly be no experiments in this match. I’m counting on rhythm and routine,” announced Martin Schmidt.

The Mainz coach has two hopes: first, “a little luck in the course of the match. In that case we have a chance, even against Bayern.” And second, that Lewandowski “is one of the rested players.” But then, with a chuckle, the Swiss supremo checked himself: “Oh no, he wasn’t in the starting line-up for the last game either.” Out of interest, Lewy has scored seven goals in his last five league matches against Mainz.