By Jonathan Dicks @Jonathan_Dicks
Mainz are looking for their fourth straight league win, unlike Hoffenheim who are going in the opposite direction and need a victory to distance themselves from the relegation zone.
|Pellegrino Matarazzo||TSG 1899 Hoffenheim|
Mainz put on a show against Gladbach last week which pushed them up into 8th in the table. Jae-sung Lee has especially been in fine form, as Mainz have nearly reached the 40-point marker which will relieve them from any relegation fuss.
Die Nullfünfer have displayed a bit of an offensive renaissance in recent weeks and have scored 16 goals in their last 6 competitive games. Assistant coach Babak Keyhanfar completed a press conference on Thursday with manager Bo Svensson out sick, but he’s still expected to recover in time for Saturday’s match.
Keyhanfar said, “Training this week has been good. The lads look focused and eager. We want to deliver a high-energy performance in front of our fans, but know that it won’t be easy.”
Jonathan Burkardt remains out, while Karim Onisiwo has a chance of surprisingly returning to the squad this weekend.
Hardly anybody could have predicted that Hoffenheim would be stuck in 16th place through Matchday 22, but here we are. Hoffenheim haven’t won a game in their last 12 Bundesliga matches, dating all the way back to an October victory against lowly Schalke.
In other news this week to the joy of many supporters, owner Dietmar Hopp announced that he will transfer most of his voting shares back to the club. This means that Hoffenheim will adopt the 50+1 rule and waive their special exemption.
Pellegrino Matarazzo stated, “We need to be prepared for Mainz’s physicality on Saturday and mirror this. At the same time, we want to switch the play during the match into Mainz’s half and use the available space.”
Jacob Ruun Larsen, Grischa Prömel and Justin Che won’t be in the squad. Angelo Stiller, Ihlas Bebou and Tom Bischof are doubtful, while Angelino is questionable with a thigh issue.
Matarazzo confirmed Robert Skov will be a squad option along with Ozan Kabak, who has recovered from a minor ankle injury.