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Meeting with Mainz

Kovač preparing Bayern for 'fierce contest'

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Going into the international break with a win: that’s the plan for FC Bayern in their home match against Mainz 05 on Saturday (live ticker from 15:30 CEST). Following the Matchday 3 clash, the Bundesliga takes a two-week break due to international matches. rounds up the key info ahead of the game.

The situation

Bayern’s win at Schalke took them onto four points from two matches, but that came after a frustrating draw in the curtain-raiser against Hertha. The Reds clearly controlled the game in front of their own fans but couldn’t convert their dominance into goals, so they’ll now be looking to secure their first home win of the campaign. Statistically, the chances of that happening are not bad as Bayern have won their last four Bundesliga meetings with Mainz, with a goal difference of 14-1.

The opposition

It’s been a poor start to the season for Mainz. After being knocked out of the DFB Cup, the 05ers have lost their opening two league games, although they were certainly not inferior in either contest. Sandro Schwarz’s men battled well against both Freiburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach, and even dominated in patches. However, a vulnerability in the closing stages of games is already emerging, with five of the last eight goals they’ve conceded coming in the final 15 minutes.

The team news

Thiago returned to full training this week after pulling out of the Schalke match, and Niko Kovač sounded confident about the Spaniard’s chances of playing in his press conference on Thursday. Leon Goretzka is also back on the grass with his teammates, although it remains to be seen whether he will available. Fiete Arp will miss out again due to illness.

What the coaches say

Niko Kovač: “We must certainly not think that it will be an easy game. No, it will only be easy if we approach it seriously, if we concentrate and focus on the task and don’t underestimate our opponents for one second. If not, it’ll be a tough game, and therefore I’m expecting a fierce contest.”

Sandro Schwarz: “Obviously Bayern is a big challenge, particularly away. You need every part of your team to function. Our focus is first and foremost on our performance – that’s how we define ourselves. Firstly we need to defend very well, secondly we need to be efficient in front of goal and thirdly you need some luck in Munich to get a perfect result.”

Top fact

A win over Mainz would be a special one for Thomas Müller, as it would be his 232nd in the Bundesliga. In the club’s all-time ranking, that would draw the 29-year-old level with Gerd Müller in third place. The two forwards don’t just share the same surname, but ‘der Bomber’ also supported Thomas when he was in the Bayern academy. After that, only Oliver Kahn (260) and Sepp Maier (249) are in front of the 2014 World Cup winner, so second place is certainly achievable this season.