Mainz 05 hoping to catch Bayern Munich in festive spirits
Mainz 05 are hoping to find runaway leaders Bayern Munich distracted by the winter break on Friday with Pep Guardiola`s side hunting more Bundesliga records in their final match of 2014.
Berlin: Mainz 05 are hoping to find runaway leaders Bayern Munich distracted by the winter break on Friday with Pep Guardiola`s side hunting more Bundesliga records in their final match of 2014.
"An hour after the game, they`ll be on holiday," joked Mainz manager Christian Heidel, "so maybe they`ll be in the appropriate mood."
Not if Bayern coach Pep Guardiola has anything to do with it.
"No excuses, we`re flying to Mainz to win," insisted the Spaniard.
Visitors Bayern are poised to snap up another league record at Mainz, having conceded only three goals all season and with the current record for fewest goals against at the halfway stage standing at seven.
The Bavarians show no sign of easing their iron grip on a third straight Bundesliga title and have not conceded a goal in their last six league games.
They restricted Tuesday`s opponents Freiburg to just 19 percent possession in Munich and mid-table Mainz can expect something similar on Friday.
"We aren`t dreamers, Bayern know no mercy," said Mainz president Harald Strutz glumly, with Munich chasing their 14th win in 17 matches.
One factor in Mainz`s favour is that Bayern`s huge squad is being tested by injuries.
Centre-back Medhi Benatia is out with a groin strain, while striker Robert Lewandowski, defender Jerome Boateng and Xabi Alonso are all doubtful.
Long-term casualties Thiago Alcantara, Philipp Lahm, Holger Badstuber, David Alaba and Javi Martìnez are not expected to play again until well into 2015.
"Soon we won`t have any players left. There are a few in the squad who have had it, the energy has gone," admitted Arjen Robben, who scored his 100th goal for Bayern in Tuesday`s 2-0 win over Freiburg.
But Guardiola insists his side are showing no signs of slowing down.
"The players are outstanding, they train everyday as if their lives depend on it," he said with pride.
Dortmund will be without centre-back Neven Subotic for Saturday`s trip to bottom side Werder Bremen after the defender picked up a fifth yellow card in Wednesday`s 2-2 draw with Wolfsburg.
Jurgen Klopp`s Dortmund remain 16th, despite reaching the last 16 of the Champions League, while Werder Bremen are bottom after Wednesday`s 4-1 defeat at Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Sixth-placed Augsburg are looking to bounce back from consecutive defeats to Bayern and Hanover 96 when they host third-placed Gladbach.
Bayer Leverkusen are out to consolidate fourth place at home to Eintracht Frankfurt, who have the league`s top scorer in Alexander Meier who has scored 12 goals in 15 games.
Roberto di Matteo`s Schalke 04, who face Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League, have a great chance of claiming three points when they host Hamburg.
Striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga has been ruled out for Hamburg having torn a thigh muscle.Fixtures (1430 GMT unless stated)
Mainz 05 v Bayern Munich
Schalke 04 v Hamburg, Bayer Leverkusen v Eintracht Frankfurt, Augsburg v Borussia Moenchengladbach, Werder Bremen v Borussia Dortmund, VfB Stuttgart v Paderborn, VfL Wolfsburg v Cologne (1730)
Hertha Berlin v Hoffenheim, Freiburg v Hanover 96 (1630)