VfL Wolfsburg dominant in removing FSV Mainz from ranks of the unbeaten

Two teams on impressive form came face to face at Volkswagen Arena today when VfL Wolfsburg hosted yet-to-lose FSV Mainz 05. The home side had won their last three Bundesliga games and could additionally boast of a Europa League group-stage victory from Thursday. Mainz, on the other hand, have looked exceptional on defense this campaign and have been a true contender for a Champions League spot thus far.

It was Wolfsburg who began the game as the more-impressive side and created the first real chance. A wonderful cross floated perfectly through Mainz’s half of the pitch and was collected by Ivan Perisic, but the finish was not quite enough to overcome Lorius Karius. Though, the 21-year-old goalkeeper could not relax for long after Wolfsburg’s first big opportunity. The home side managed to create another chance less than four minutes later, when a cross from Perisic found Ivica Olic, whose header looked determined to find the net. Karius managed to save the ball after some fumbling just before it passed the line.

Wolfsburg continued to try and make Mainz’s evening less pleasant with a couple of offensive attacks. The trio of Kevin de Bruyne, Olic, and Perisic showed signs of good interpersonal skills, but when their green and white side finally scored the opening goal it was a completely different group of players in the center of the attention. A Marcel Schäfer corner, perfectly taken, found Naldo’s head inside the penalty area. The 32-year-old steered the ball perfectly into the net, leaving Karius with no chance. Mainz defenders did not notice the high-flying Brazilian and did not do enough to stop him from getting to the ball.

After the opening goal both sides had opportunities for the next.

Perisic and Mainz’s Filip Djurdic each had their opportunities, but no more goals were scored in the first half, allowing Wolfsburg could leave the pitch as the happier side.

The second half followed a pattern similar to that of the first: a high-intensity opening with a couple of early chances. Wolfsburg took over most of the possession and dominated the tie completely within a couple of minutes. The home side showed signs of good thing to come with attractive offensive football. Mainz, on the other hand, did not look like a Champions League contender anymore, and their deficit seemed fated to be expanded.

And, eventually, it was. Shortly before of the hour mark, Schäfer delivered a corner. The ball once more got a perfect spin, and Naldo struck it rather easily with his head. This time, Karius was positioned correctly and looked set to make an easy save. Perisic wanted to score his first goal of the season, though, and directed the ball to his right, just in front of the goalkeeper and into the net.

Mainz’s big secret weapon this far into the season has been the club’s impressive defense. Today, the visitors needed more firepower up front, creating too few opportunities, and when they did they weren’t anything that really scared Diego Benaglio (except for one hit to the post). As an example, the goalkeeper made quite an easy save when Johannes Geis got the chance to reduce the home side’s lead with a free kick with the opportunity to climb back into the match seemingly otherwise out of reach. Geis’ attempt, however, was not even close to getting pass Benaglio.

Instead, it was Wolfsburg who scored the third goal of the game. With just a couple of minutes left on the clock, Daniel Caligiuri found Bernard Malanda Adje, who came on after 84 minutes to replace Josuha Guilavogui. The 20-year-old easily put the ball into the empty net to secure the three points for Wolfsburg.

Thanks to the impressive victory, Wolfsburg is now positioned third in the Bundesliga standings. Dieter Hecking’s side truly looks strong after a poor start to the campaign, and, who knows? Maybe it’s Wolfsburg who will have clinched second place by season’s end. At least the club now looks strong enough to secure a position that high up the standings. Meanwhile, Mainz has to lick their wounds and try to come back stronger when Werder Bremen visit the Coface Arena next weekend.

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Linus Vedmar

Linus is a 20-year-old Swede who follows all Bundesliga clubs but have a soft spot for FC St. Pauli. You can follow Linus on Twitter @LinusVedmar.

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