FSV Mainz 05 will retain their hold on second place in the Bundsliga table through the weekend following their 3-0 drubbing of Nurnberg Friday evening. Mainz now trail first-place Borussia Dortmund by four points and lead third place Bayer Leverkusen by five, with Dortmund and Leverkusen playing their MatchDay 14 games on Saturday. Thomas Tuchel’s young Mainz side have now rebounded from their patch of poor play with two consecutive victories after starting the season winning their first seven matches. Dieter Hecking’s Nurnberg club have now lost three in a row after a relatively promising beginning.
Nurnberg looked the somewhat brighter of the two sides early on in the match, as the visitor’s Mike Frantz tested Mainz goalkeeper Christian Wetklo in the 10th minute, with Wetklo making a good reaction save to his left. Both teams seemed cautious as they tested each other and the slippery pitch. But Mainz broke the ice in the 27th minute. Andres Schurrle was able to connect with a shot from Malik Fathi, who had received the ball from a Christian Fuchs corner. Mainz 1-0 lead held through the end of the first half, as they found their rhythm and dominated possession in the first 45 minutes, 64% to 36%.
Minutes after intermission, Nurnberg looked to equalize as Ilkay Gondagon blasted a 35 shot just barely over the Mainz’ crossbar, but Mainz were able to double their lead nine minutes after intermission when Nikolce Noveski’s shot found the back of Nurnberg’s net. Noveski was assisted by Schurrle. With a 2-0 lead, Mainz’ confidence seemed to grow and they kept up their attacking while maintaining a solid defense shape. Nurnberg did not quit, but the hustle and determination exhibited by the Mainz side, and in particular midfielders Christian Fuchs and Marcel Risse, was too much to overcome for Der Club.
Mainz added their third goal at the 86th minute mark. Substitute Sami Allagui continued his dynamic form as he took a long pass from Wetklo and beat Nurnberg keeper Raphael Schafer for his sixth goal of the Bundesliga season, tying him for the team lead with Schurrle. Wetklo played well in goal to earn the clean sheet, and although Nurnberg narrowed the gap in possession in the 2nd half, and lead in shots 13-10 and corner kicks, 4-1, the match was clearly a solid victory for Mainz.
For those of us who wondered whether Mainz seven game win streak or their rough patch of five losses in six matches (including their DFB Pokal club elimination by Alemania Aachen) is most indicative of their quality, the question is still up in the air. Mainz play away to Eintracht Frankfurt and St. Pauli with a home match against Schalke 04 sandwiched in between before the winter break. These are all matches in which a quality team should pick up points.
Nurnberg, meanwhile, need to regain the form that saw them beat VfB Stuttgart, Schalke, Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen and FC Koln between late Septemeber and early November. Lone striker Julian Schieber seems to be stranded up front, fairly starved of service. Der club have only managed one goal in their last three matches. Their three remaining matches before the winter break include home contests against Borussia Dortmund and Hannover 96, with an away fixture at Hoffenheim in between. Nurnberg also will play away at OFC Kickers on December 21st in the next round of the DFB Pokal tournament.
Notes: Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan led Nurnberg with four shots. Mainz’ Lewis Holtby was an unused substitute.
Mainz Starting Lineup: Wetklo, Noveski, Bungert, Fathi, Zabavnik, Polanski, Caliguiri, Fuchs, Risse, Szalai, Schurrle Subs Used: Ivanschitz 69′ (for Risse), Allagui 75′ (for Schurrle), Karhan 83′ (for Caliguiri)
Nurnberg Starting Lineup: Scharfer, Wolf, Maroh, Bieler, Judt, Gundogan, Hegeler, Simons, Frantz, Eigler, Schieber Subs Used: Mak 67′ (for Frantz), Ekici 67′ (for Eigler), Mintal 76′ (for Judt)