VfB Stuttgart have won their last two league games to maintain their third place, but they are unlikely to challenge for the title at this stage, as they go into this matchday 12 points behind the leaders. Bayer Leverkusen, one of the two teams above them, also knocked them out of the German Cup in midweek, but at least the hosts can now focus on their quest for Champions League qualification.
Despite that setback, Stuttgart have come a long way after having to survive a relegation playoff last season, and with star striker Serhou Guirassy (17 goals) potentially returning, things could get even better. In any case, Stuttgart have remained strong at home even in his absence, going unbeaten in each of their last seven competitive outings at the MHPArena (6W, 1D), with the last four wins in that run coming by multiple goals.
Visitors Mainz have had less preparation time for this encounter, having played a rearranged league game against Union Berlin on Wednesday which ended in a 1-1 draw. That result extended their winless run in the Bundesliga to ten matches, surpassing even their dreadful nine-match winless run at the start of the season (1W, 9D, 10L), meaning Mainz are unsurprisingly battling for survival.
Mainz’s toothless attack has particularly handicapped them during this ten-game run, failing to score more than once in any of those matches, a point which is all the more pertinent as they have kept a relatively tight defence by not conceding more than once in any of those games either. However, a trip to Stuttgart could test that solidity, having conceded seven goals in their last two meetings, which may dampen any optimism (2L).
Key Players: Serhou Guirassy is expected to finally return for this game, which is a good thing given that he scored the first of his two hat-tricks this season in the reverse fixture. For Mainz, Jonathan Burkardt finally opened his account in midweek, taking his tally to four as their leading scorer.
Hot stat: Stuttgart are one of only three Bundesliga teams to have scored in every single one of their home league games this season.