Thomas Tuchel is looking forward to his return to Mainz with Borussia Dortmund in Friday’s Bundesliga fixture.
Tuchel coached Mainz for six years, leading them into Europe twice, including courtesy of a seventh-place Bundesliga finish in 2013-14.
But the 42-year-old asked to leave at the end of that campaign despite having a year of his contract to run.
He reached a settlement with Mainz that meant he was not allowed to take on another job without seeking his former club’s permission.
A year away from coaching followed before he was appointed as Jurgen Klopp’s successor at Dortmund.
This week, Mainz president Harald Strutz described the manner of Tuchel’s departure as “borderline” and claimed that both men “have different conceptions of respect”.
But Tuchel refused to be drawn into any potential row and told Bild: “It’s certainly not a bad feeling for me to return.
“On Thursday evening I shall meet some friends and go to see some familiar faces.”
Of greater concern to Tuchel is the task of picking up his players from a chastening first loss of the season – a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of rivals Bayern Munich before the international break.
That damaging reverse came on the back of three draws at home and abroad, with Dortmund needing to rediscover the form that reeled off 11 consecutive wins in all competitions at the start of Tuchel’s reign.
They sit seven points shy of Bayern at the top of the table and were also unable to find a win during the international break as a weekend friendly with third-tier outfit Magdeburg finished 2-2.
“For those of us players who didn’t go away on international duty, it was a good opportunity to keep our rhythm going,” said midfielder Sven Bender.
“Two weeks without a match would’ve hardly been ideal. The goals we conceded were unnecessary. You want to win every game.”
A 3-2 win having twice being pegged back at Darmstadt last time out left Mainz eighth in the table and they will close up to two points behind Dortmund if they are victorious at the Coface Arena.
The hosts won the corresponding fixture 2-0 in September last season thanks to a second-half strike from now departed striker Shinji Okazaki and a Matthias Ginter own goal.
But that was Dortmund’s only loss against their forthcoming opponents in the previous 10 meetings between the clubs.
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