Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Prediction: Bayer Leverkusen vs Mainz 05

Verdict: Total home goals over 2.5

Best odds: 26/25

Bookmaker: Unibet

Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen are on the verge of breaking an all-time German football record as they prepare to host Mainz 05 at the BayArena on Friday night.

Leverkusen, aiming to secure their first-ever Bundesliga title this season, are in prime position to achieve this historic feat. On the other hand, Mainz find themselves battling at the lower end of the table, striving to maintain their top-flight status for a 16th consecutive season.

Bayer Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen extended their remarkable unbeaten streak across all competitions to 32 matches with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Heidenheim at Voith-Arena last weekend. This achievement equals Bayern Munich’s all-time German football record for the longest unbeaten run, which was set in 2020.

Jeremie Frimpong opened the scoring in first-half stoppage time, followed by a goal from Amine Adli in the 81st minute to put Leverkusen two goals ahead. Despite Tim Kleindienst pulling one back for Heidenheim five minutes later, Leverkusen held on for their 18th league win of the campaign.

Under the guidance of in-demand head coach Xabi Alonso, who has been linked with Bayern Munich and Liverpool in recent weeks, Leverkusen have extended their lead at the top of the Bundesliga to eight points. This lead could potentially increase to 11 if they secure a victory against Mainz on Friday, before Bayern face RB Leipzig on Saturday.

Historically, no Bundesliga team has failed to win the title after holding an eight-point lead at this stage of the season. Therefore, Leverkusen should be confident of securing the crown in their remaining 12 games, starting with a successful outing against Mainz, whom they defeated 3-0 earlier in the season.

Leverkusen will look forward to returning to the BayArena, where they have remained unbeaten in their last 18 matches across all competitions, including 11 Bundesliga fixtures this season. However, they did suffer a surprise 3-2 defeat the last time they hosted Mainz in February last year.

Team News

Leverkusen are still without their top scorer, Victor Boniface, who is sidelined with a groin injury. Additionally, Exequiel Palacios and Arthur are also nursing thigh injuries as they work towards recovery.

Odilon Kossounou, who returned to the matchday squad last weekend as an Africa Cup of Nations champion with Ivory Coast, will be vying for a starting spot either as a centre-back or midfielder in Friday’s game. Edmond Tapsoba, who has also recently returned from AFCON duty too, could make a comeback in defence.

Amine Adli has found the net in two of his last three appearances and is expected to retain his place in the final third alongside Florian Wirtz. The competition for starting spots also includes Jonas Hofmann and Nathan Tella, with Patrik Schick or Borja Iglesias likely to feature alongside them.

Mainz 05

Mainz ended their 11-game winless streak in the Bundesliga with a narrow 1-0 home victory over Augsburg last weekend, marking only the second time they’ve claimed maximum points this season.

Despite being the lowest scorers in the German top flight this term, Mainz has found the net in each of their last three matches. Defender Sepp van den Berg headed home the decisive goal shortly before half-time against Augsburg, sealing the crucial win.

Under new manager Bo Henriksen, Mainz are now just one point behind 16th-placed Koln in the relegation playoff position. They’re also seven points adrift of 15th-placed Borussia Monchengladbach, setting up a pivotal clash between the two sides next month.

With 12 games left to play, Mainz face daunting trips to Leverkusen and Munich in their next two away fixtures. Their away form has been poor, as they last won a Bundesliga away match in April last year. They are the only remaining top-flight team yet to secure an away win this season, with six draws and five losses on their travels.

Despite this, Mainz have reasons for optimism against Leverkusen on Friday. They have won two of their last four meetings with Leverkusen and have earned four points across their last three visits to the BayArena.

Team News

Andreas Hanche-Olsen (thigh), Nelson Weiper (knee), and Stefan Bell (illness) remain sidelined due to their respective issues. Additionally, Edmilson Fernandes (ankle), Maxim Leitsch (muscle), and Jonathan Burkardt (illness) are doubtful for the upcoming match and will be assessed closer to kickoff.

Without Hanche-Olsen, who was forced off in the win over Augsburg, Mainz may opt to start either Joshua Guilavogui or Anthony Caci in the back three alongside Sepp van den Berg and Dominik Kohr.

Karim Onisiwo, who scored 10 Bundesliga goals last season, is yet to find the net in 17 appearances this season. Nevertheless, he is expected to continue in attack alongside Brajan Gruda and Lee Jae-sung.

Conclusion

Both teams will be determined to secure all three points for different reasons, but although Mainz celebrated success at the BayArena last season, Leverkusen are undoubtedly the favorites entering Friday’s contest.

Alonso’s side has displayed an attacking threat even in the absence of Boniface, and they are expected to have little trouble breaking through Mainz’s defense on their path to securing a victory that could further boost their title aspirations.

Verdict: Total home goals over 2.5

Best odds: 26/25

Bookmaker: Unibet

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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