Bundesliga teams Mainz 05 and Union Berlin face off at MEWA Arena on Wednesday night, both aiming for a win to help their fight to stay up.
Both teams lost their last matches, leaving Mainz just above the bottom team Darmstadt by goal difference, and Union only six points ahead.
Mainz hasn’t won in nine matches, with their last victory coming against RB Leipzig in November under new head coach Jan Siewert.
After losing 1-0 twice in a row – once to Eintracht Frankfurt and then to Werder Bremen at home – Mainz’s 15-year presence in the Bundesliga is at risk as they sit 17th.
With Mainz six points from safety and four points from the relegation playoff spot, their fans are understandably worried, especially after seeing their team struggle so often.
At home, Mainz has only gained five points and scored the least number of goals (six), making the upcoming match crucial for improving their poor home record.
This game, rescheduled due to previous icy conditions, also gives Mainz a chance to avenge their 4-1 loss in August’s match against Union Berlin, which hinted at a challenging season.
Union Berlin has a strong record against Mainz, with only one loss in their last 10 games and victories in four of the last five league matches.
Given Mainz’s troubles, Union, under new coach Nenad Bjelica, might aim for a season sweep, especially after stabilizing their performance since late November.
Since replacing popular coach Urs Fischer, Union has lost only two Bundesliga games, showing a marked improvement from their earlier form.
Despite being just above the relegation playoff spot, Union’s performance this season, especially on the road, has been weaker than in past years.
Jan Siewert won’t have Lee Jae-sung, who is at the Asian Cup with South Korea. Brajan Gruda and Nelson Weiper are also out due to injuries.
Stefan Bell is recovering from a serious bacterial infection and won’t play for a while.
Mainz has strengthened their team by signing Nadiem Amiri from Bayer Leverkusen, who is expected to start again on Wednesday.
Union will miss Josip Juranovic, but Frederik Ronnow, Alex Kral, and Diogo Leite could return after recovering from illness.
With Christopher Trimmel suspended, Brenden Aaronson is likely to step in on the right side.
Yorbe Vertessen, who joined from PSV, played upfront last game, but Kevin Volland might return to the starting lineup.
Mainz 05 possible starting lineup:
Widmer, Van den Berg, Caci, Mwene;
Burkardt, Amiri, Onisiwo;
Union Berlin possible starting lineup:
Knoche, Vogt, Doekhi;
Aaronson, Schafer, Tousart, Gosens;
Prediction: Mainz 05 0-1 Union Berlin
With both teams struggling to score, this match is expected to be tight. Mainz is under pressure to perform at home, while Union shows signs of progress and has a stronger attack.