After a 1-1 draw to start the season anew, RB Leipzig will once again head out to the pitch to take on the club where superstar Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp made his name, 1. FSV Mainz 05.
After last week’s draw with Freiburg, Leipzig slipped to fourth place with 51 points, on the very edge of the Bunesliga’s UEFA Champions League spots. Only a point separates them from Europa League, with Bayer Leverkusen sitting right behind them at 50 points.
Mainz find themselves four points clear of the relegation zone, albeit the relegation playoff spot and not direct demotion. Mainz are led by former Leipzig manager Achim Beierlorzer, having taken charge midseason in 2015. Leipzig finished with six wins, six defeats, and three draws under Beierlorzer and missed out on possible promotion from the 2. Bundesliga to Bundesliga by 8 points, which would have sent them to the same relegation playoffs Mainz are struggling to avoid right now.
Regardless, Mainz have not had an easy season. Punctuated by a 0-8 defeat against Leipzig at Red Bull Arena, they’ve struggled to tread water and keep themselves alive. Having been beaten by two or more goals in 9 of their 16 defeats across all competitions, it has felt that when it rains it pours. Their top goal scoring threat will be Swedish international Robin Quaison, who was already netted 11 times this season. Mainz are already operating at a -19 goal differential in the Bundesliga, though they held 10th place Köln to a draw last week.
For Leipzig, this game has greater implications. Walking away without three points would almost ensure that RBNY’s sister club would be dropped from the title race. We saw last week that some injured players were meandering their way back on the field and the 18, Tyler Adams started but did not go the full 90 minutes once Leipzig drifted to a traditional back 4. Bringing more players back into the fold against an opponent more inclined to concede than score could do much to aid the confidence of players who’ve been on the shelf for some time.
There wouldn’t be a better time for Timo Werner to get his name back on the scoresheet after failing to score against Freiburg, Werner has menaced Mainz for 10 goals against them and this includes a hat trick in their last game. Fixtures between Leipzig and Mainz have traditionally been high scoring affairs, only the September 2017 clash producing a team scoring fewer than 3 goals. Leipzig are currently ahead in that series with four wins, a single loss in 2018, and two draws.
The game kicks off at 9:30 am EST on May 24th, and will be broadcast in the US on FS1 or Fox Deportes. As always, please check your local listings.