THE LIVE Bundesliga continues on Sunday and here Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) sets the scene ahead of Mainz's match with RB Leipzig.
Mainz v RB Leipzig | Sunday 24th May 2020, 14:30 | BT Sport
RB Leipzig travel to Mainz knowing that their slim title hopes are fading away fast following a run of three successive Bundesliga draws. Stalemates have cost RB considerably this season and they’ve now racked up nine in total following last weekend’s failure to beat Freiburg at home.
There’s no doubt however that Julian Nanglesmann has done a good job since joining from Hoffenheim on both the domestic and European fronts. When you see how well they dispatched Tottenham, last season’s Champions League finalists, before the prolonged break in play, you can see what so many of this squad are capable of.
The young manager has plenty of options to chose from this weekend and will no doubt rotate with plenty of games coming up. A defensive boost is that Dayot Upamecano returns from suspension and should slot straight back in to nullify a pacey Mainz forward line. I’d expect Marcel Sabitzer to comE back into the middle of the park as well after an impressive cameo off the bench in that weekend disappointment and his creative talents could make the difference here.
Mainz meanwhile also have some good squad depth, particularly in forward areas, with Jean-Philippe Mateta back from a ban and pushing Karim Onisiwo and Taiwo Awoniyi (both who did well against Koln from different perspectives) for a starting berth.
It will be interesting to see if Mainz stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation for this one or match a three man defence that Leipzig which almost certainly deploy. Either way, they’ll need to much smarter at the back to keep the away side quiet and avoid a repeat of the 8-0 drubbing in the reverse.
When you’ve had such a one-sided game and result, it’s always interesting to look at how well the team that was on the receiving end will react when they meet again. Mainz’s star man Robin Quaison has spoken of the hurt that eight-goal defeat caused the team and wants his teammates to “take revenge”. It’s an angle I want to get onside as I think there’s perhaps too much weighting against the 05ers.
I can’t help but think back to when my team Southampton suffered our worst ever defeat to Leicester this season, the infamous 9-0. It as humiliating of course for the fans but no doubt the players too. The two teams we’re focusing on here (Mainz and Leipzig) are probably further apart in terms of quality compared to Leicester and Southampton but the latter saw a reversal of the result when they met again at the King Power Stadium in January.
Only Werder Bremen have conceded more goals this season than Mainz so I’m not totally convinced to get behind them in the 1-X-2 markets but will instead look to their determination to avenge such a heavy defeat and restore some order.
The betting angles
Mainz are priced at evens with SkyBet to register 18 or more tackles in the match and it’ll be my first selection here. The team are not afraid to get stuck in and if you revert back to Southampton’s redemption win at Leicester, they managed 23 tackles that day and 17 fouls and I wouldn’t be surprised to see similar numbers here, albeit in a different atmosphere.
They will have to disrupt Leipzig from playing if they are to get any form of a result and my second pick is a Bet Builder with Bet365 – Over 13.5 free-kicks in the match for Leipzig and Over 6.5 goal kicks for Mainz – coming out at 21/20.
Mainz concede the fourth-most fouls per game on average in the German top-flight and that count reached 15 in the spirited draw at Koln. This Leipzig team contains some good dribblers and I’m sure Achim Beierlorzer’s men, particularly early on, will be happy to make their mark on their opponents to let them know they’re in for a game.
The foul count was up across the Bundesliga last weekend in the first full card in a behind closed doors environment and I don’t think the absence of fans is going to see too much of a drop in the referee reaching for his whistle, with screams of the players now heard even more prominently and making referees believe challenges are actually worse than they are in some cases.
On the goal kick element of the bet, Over 6.5 is a line that has landed for Leipzig’s opponents in the team’s last five fixtures – peaking at 18 for Freiburg last weekend – and if Nanglesmann’s troops continue to be as prolific at getting shots away, Mainz ‘keeper Robin Zentner will have a busy afternoon.
Leipzig, with all their qualities, could well dispatch of Mainz here but the outright odds are perhaps harsh on a side who will no doubt be looking for redemption and a pride-restoring result and therefore the prop markets appeal better for me.