As the curtains close on the exceptional career of Roman Weidenfeller, Borussia Dortmund look to clinch a spot in the UEFA Champions League with a win against bottom-feeders Mainz.
No disrespect to Mainz, but this should be a fairly easy win for Borussia Dortmund and pleasant farewell to the playing career of BVB-great Roman Weidenfeller.
Dortmund can take all of the drama out of next week’s more challenging match against in-form Hoffenheim with a win at the Westfalenstadion against a struggling Mainz side.
Mainz are heavily dependent upon one player at the moment: Pablo De Blasis. Though, I take nothing away from Jean-Philippe Gbamin, Danny Latza, or Stefan Bell [Editor’s note: Really? Stefan Bell?? He is terrible!!!].
The club from Hessen has some decent names on their roster who have contributed to what has been a fairly successful Bundesliga side over the past five years. This season though has been a mighty struggle.
Mainz has been in the relegation battle for most of this campaign and only last week, saved themselves from a possible direct drop to the 2nd Bundesliga with their impressive win over RB Leipzig.
Due to a lack of highly-skilled players, their high error probability, inability to create a healthy amount of scoring chances, and poor one-on-one defending against more talented individuals, it leaves manager Sandro Schwarz with precious few strategic options.
Essentially, Mainz have no other choice other than to sit back and hope Dortmund commits an egregious error, resulting in an immediate counter-attack.
From Peter Stöger’s perspective, we should see a similar if not the exact lineup from last weekend in Bremen. BVB will look again to go wide and draw the defenders out of their positions.
Dortmund will dominate possession, there is no doubt of that. It is what they do with that possession that truly matters.
By qualifying for the Champions League, Stöger will have at the very least, achieved the bare-minimum goal at Dortmund this season, which under Peter Bosz, looked most uncertain.
BVB have transitioned nicely from a 4-2-3-1 into a 4-1-4-1 over the past few weeks and it is paying dividends. The last two weeks have seen stellar performances from many players who were previously struggling.
Julian Weigl and especially Mario Götze have reemerged as credible midfield options for Stöger, with the latter still hopeful of a trip to Russia to play in the World Cup.
Mainz own the fourth-worst goal differential (-14) in the league while Dortmund has the second-best (+20). Expect an aggressive approach from the Black and Yellows from the first minute onward.
With the recent positive form of Manuel Akanji and Jadon Sancho, newcomers to BVB this season, the future does indeed look bright. Expect both players to play key roles in the final two games of the season.
In theory, Mainz has very little to play for. They are trying to avoid the relegation playoff if they can, though Wolfsburg (currently 16th) certainly has done little to suggest that they will take three points off of anyone in the league at the current time.
It is all there for the taking. A win in the final home match of the season as Roman Weidenfeller bids adieu would also send Stöger out on a winning note and launch the team back into the Königsklasse (German nickname for UCL) for the sixth time in the past seven years.
Borussia Dortmund simply possess too much talent. The likes of Marco Reus (11 goals in 16 games v Mainz), Mario Götze and Maxi Philipp up front should be more than enough to put multiple shots past Mainz keeper, Florian Müller.
Additionally, we could see the return of the dynamic Shinji Kagawa who was having a successful season before his untimely injury in February, especially under Peter Stöger.
Mainz will play a defensive-minded game, but it will only carry them so far. Eventually, the quality of Borussia Dortmund will see them open the scoring. From there, it could get ugly.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 3-0 FSV Mainz 05
BVB: Weidenfeller – Piszczek, Sokratis, Toprak, Akanji – Weigl – Pulisic, Götze, Reus, Sancho – Philipp
Manager: Peter Stöger
M05: Müller – Brosinski, Bell, Hack, Diallo – de Jong – Gbamin, Serdar – De Blasis, Öztunali – Muto
Manager: Sandro Schwarz