By Ben Sully @SullyBen
Two sides that are aiming to finish in the European places will go head-to-head on Sunday when Mainz 05 play host to Freiburg.
Mainz missed out on the chance to claim a fifth consecutive victory when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Hertha BSC last weekend. Jessic Ngankam 18th-minute penalty gave Hertha the lead, before Ludovic Ajorque restored parity in the 57th minute. Ultimately, Mainz were unable to find a winner, but they may have been content with a draw which extended their unbeaten run to five games.
Bo Svensson’s side will start the day in eighth position with four points separating them from the top six. They will need to continue to pick up positive results if they are to challenge for the European places, and their recent home record suggests that they have a chance of claiming all three points on Sunday.
Die Nullfünfer have won their last four league matches at the MEWA-Arena, and they now have the opportunity to claim five consecutive top-flight home victories for the second time in Svensson’s tenure.
The hosts are still unable to call upon Jonathan Burkardt, who is sidelined with a knee problem.
Freiburg were knocked out of the Europa League in midweek, losing 2-0 in the second leg of their last-16 tie against Juventus.
As a result of the 3-0 aggregate defeat, Freiburg will turn their attention to domestic matters for the remainder of the 2022-23 season. Christian Streich’s side are currently chasing Champions League football and are still involved in the DFB-Pokal.
With Freiburg sat just outside the top four on goal difference, they will head into the international break in the Champions League places if they can pick up at least a point against Mainz.
Having avoided defeat in each of their last five Bundesliga matches, the omens appear to be positive for Freiburg.
However, they have struggled on their travels in recent times, winning just one of their last five top-flight away games. They have also found it tough going in away fixtures against Mainz, having won only one of their 13 Bundesliga away meetings with Sunday’s opponents.
After missing the last two matches, Philipp Lienhart is still a doubt for Freiburg, while long-term absentee Daniel-Kofi Kyereh remains sidelined.