Mainz head into their first match of the Rückrunde as a much different team to the one that faced Freiburg on the opening day of the season back in August. Not only have they got a new coach - Achim Beierlorzer - after the departure of Sandro Schwarz, but they've also finally seem to have found the winning formula, albeit in patches.
Freburg ended the first half of the season in poor form, and after two consecutive mid-season friendly defeats to Borussia Monchengladbach last week, will be on the look out for that return to victories against a side that have shown their inconsistency throughout the season.
What the managers say
Mainz boss Achim Beierlorzer: "Freiburg are a great side, and they were really good in the Hinrunde. we are playing at home and want to show what we’re good at. We must use the space and move the ball around well. Freiburg are always capable of finding a solution and escaping pressure. We have to be ready for this and play with good tempo going forward. We’ve done that a lot recently, but nust need to be less wasteful in front of goal.”
Freiburg coach Christian Streich: "We just have to make a good game, only it's not that easy. "The Mainz team always succeeds in bringing athletic, fast and talented players onto the pitch. They will also be very aggressive on Saturday and develop many chances to score."
Jeremiah St Juste and Jean-Paul Boetius both returned to training for Mainz after missing the friendly against Dortmund in Marbella last week, but the Zerofivers will still be without Danny Latza and Stefan Bell, who still need time to recover from their injuries. Edimilson Fernandes will undergo surgery in Munich on Monday.
Goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow and defender Lino Tempelmann are once again available for Freiburg after returning from injuries, but they are unlikely to have Luca Waldschmidt in the squad after suffering from illness, while Nico Schlotterbeck is also unwell. Nicolas Hofler (suspension) is also unavailable.
One To Watch
Striker Robin Quaison scored a hat trick just before Christmas as Mainz smashed Werder Bremen 5-0 away from home and he has found his shooting boots of late. With seven goals this season, he has four more than any other player in the Mainz squad, and could be the man to inflict defeat of the Breisgau club.