THE BUNDESLIGA continues on Wednesday and Chris Bland (@blandc_1996) is on-hand to preview the televised showdown between Union Berlin and Mainz.
Union Berlin v Mainz | Wednesday 27th May 2020, 19:30 | BT Sport
Two sides battling to beat the drop meet on Wednesday night, as Union Berlin host Mainz with both teams knowing a win would give their survival hopes a massive boost.
Union Berlin will be looking for a response after a disappointing derby defeat to Hertha Berlin, where a second half implosion saw Urs Fischer’s side crumble to a 4-0 loss. Goals have been an issue since returning from the break for Union, but coming up against one of the poorer Bundesliga defences in Mainz, they will be confident of ending a dismal run of form in front of goal.
Mainz are fresh from a 5-0 thumping at home to RB Leipzig, which took the aggregate score over the high-flyers to a worrying 13-0 across the season, and the ease that Julian Nagglesmann’s side ripped open the strugglers will be a massive concern for Achim Beierlorzer.
Conceding 60 goals this season, the underlying data behind Mainz is particularly worrying, with an Expected Goals against (xGa) of 54.61, whilst the opposition will on average attempt 15.4 shots per-game.
Particularly vulnerable to the counter attack, a theme from their defeat to Leipzig and draw to Koln was the ease that sounds attacking at pace could open up the Mainz defence, with the defence often left exposed by the attacking nature of the full backs and a lack of tracking back from attackers.
Whether Union Berlin can threaten on the counter awaits to be seen, and their lack of tempo in the build up play against Hertha was an issue. They could welcome back Yunus Malli in attack, whilst Sebastian Andersson looks to be returning to full fitness after struggling against Hertha, and his return to form would boost Union’s chances further.
Andersson, Union's top scorer, was left isolated against Hertha’s centre halves, and the return of Malli, coupled with improvements from Marius Bulter, would help alleviate these problems, and help break down the open defence.
Union’s reliance on set-pieces has been a theme this season, and in the reverse fixture that Union won 3-2, two of Union’s goal came from corners, and they’ll be buoyed by the fact that Mainz have conceded 13 goals from these situations. Andersson will be a massive threat from dead ball scenarios, whilst centre half Marvin Friedrich is another, averaging 0.71 shots per-90, all from set-piece situations.
Despite their worries at the back, Mainz do possess the ability to cause problems going forward, in particular with Robin Quaison leading the line up front. The Swede possesses the ability to cause the Union problems, and their own issues against the counter, as well as attackers running at pace, was apparent in the game against Hertha, where Dodi Lukabakio and Matheus Cunha caused the backline all sorts of problems.
Quaison will be confident of causing similar problems, whilst the roles of Ridie Baku and Levin Oztunali will be crucial in Mainz’s chances against a side that lacks the pace to deal with these tricky dribblers
In attack, Mainz’s Expected Goals (xG) still sits at a promising 35.89, and Union’s own xGa is a worrying 46.84, and when combining these factors and those discussed above, the game immediately stands out for goals.
Priced at 1/1 (Bet365), Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score takes appeal, particularly with both sides desperate for a result but defensively struggling, so attack may be the best form of defence for these sides.
Union Berlin v Mainz – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (1/1 Bet365)