1. FSV Mainz 05 - Bayer Leverkusen Preview: Two sides with sights set on Europe do battle

The Coface Arena will host on Sunday an important game for the race to the Champions League and Europa League between 1. FSV Mainz and Bayer Leverkusen.

1. FSV Mainz 05 - Bayer Leverkusen Preview: Two sides with sights set on Europe do battle
Image credit: kicker

One week after the events with the referees and their loss against Borussia Dortmund, Roger Schmidt and his team are back in Bundesliga action to face 1. FSV Mainz 05.

The hosts are one of the most attractive teams in the league this season, with Sunday's game taking huge importance ahead of the next few weeks and the European places.

Leverkusen have to resume control

The away side, Bayer Leverkusen, travel to Mainz with the aim of winning in order to go to within a point of third place Hertha BSC. But despite their loss last week against Dortmund in a tough game, the Werkself warmed up fort his one with qualification to the next round of the Europa League. Thanks to their 3-1 victory 3-1 against Sporting, they had secured their qualification to the last 16 and now face Villarreal. 

Schmidt who will not be on the bench for the next three games, including this one, after he was been sanctioned by the DFB. The coach is not afraid though and, on Friday, during the press conference he said:  "I trust my coaching staff. We will put on a good fight and compensate for my touchline ban." But they will have to give their best on the pitch on Sunday afternoon if they want to go back home with three precious points. 

The away side will have to do without Kevin Kampl, who has been operated on, and the injured Kyriakos Papadopoulos. Moreover Stefan Kießling is doubtful, which is an important factor. Finally, their captain, Lars Bender, is not ready yet to start a game. His ankle is still a bit weak, according to the coach. But he is a candidate to play alongside Christoph Kramer.

Can Hernandez fire Leverkusen to glory? | Image source: kicker
Can Hernandez fire Leverkusen to glory? | Image source: kicker

Will the Karneval club be taking themselves into Europe?

Since the start of the season, the men of Martin Schmidt are doing a pretty good job. But last week, they fell tp defeat against a team that is trying to stay alive and remain in the Bundesliga. Mainz lost 3-2 against Hoffenheim in a spectacular game where they scored first. But Julian Nagelsmann's side came back in the game quickly with a goal two minutes later. Then the second half, especially after the 68th minute, the result was confirmed. 

Anyway, despite this defeat, Mainz were on a run of three victories, and this defeat must be left behind because each game is becoming important as the end of the season is drawing closer. The home side are undefeated in their last five home matches, and will be hoping to continue that run against Leverkusen.

Unfortunately they will have to play without Yoshinori Muto, who is still injured and who was forming an impressive partnership with Yunus Malli. The Japanese will once again be replaced by Jhon CordobaStefan Bell, their centre-back, is also out and either Niko Bungert or Alexander Hack will replace him.