Mainz ready to topple Bayern again
Coach Thomas Tuchel has admitted Mainz 05 will have to play to their limits to claim a third win from four home games against Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday.
With an 11-point lead at the top of the table, this year's league title is Bayern's to lose, but Mainz have a proud record at home to the Bavarians having won two of their last three homes games against Munich.
Tuchel, 39, is building an impressive reputation for getting the most from his young Mainz squad and was at the helm when they won their first seven German league matches of 2010 to briefly top the Bundesliga.
Despite beating Bayern at home in both 2009 and 2011, Tuchel says the current Munich squad present him with the biggest challenge in his four years at Mainz.
"This is the hardest game in the last four years," he said, with midfielder Eric Choupo-Moting and defender Niko Bungert both out and Hungary striker Adam Szalai suspended.
"Even if we produce an emotional, top performance, it will still be difficult."
Bayern have yet to concede a goal in 2013 and Tuchel said the Bavarians are the team to beat.
"In the Bundesliga, Bayern are the measure of all things. Apart from Barcelona, they are the most talented team in Europe." he said.
"If they hit their top level, we won't be able to do much about it."
Bayern have claimed 15 wins from their 19 matches so far, but last season's champions Borussia Dortmund are the only team to have won at Coface Arena in the last five months and Mainz have won seven of their last nine home league games.
Competition is fierce in the Bayern squad with both wing Arjen Robben and striker Mario Gomez clearly unhappy to be left on the bench.
Germany's Thomas Mueller has been impressive on the right wing while Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic is finding the net and between them the pair have claimed all four league goals from the last two games.
Bastian Schweinsteiger said the leaders never know what to expect from Mainz, who are fifth in the table, under Tuchel.
"He often changes his starting team and system, you often only first see what you are playing against in the first minute," said the Germany star.
Ribery's understudy on the left wing, Swiss wing Xherdan Shaqiri, and defender Rafinha both miss the trip to Mainz with ankle injuries.
Arguably the tie of the weekend sees Dortmund, third, travel to second-placed Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday with the hosts having conceded just one goal in their last six competitive home games.
However, Bayer have won only one of their last eleven meetings with Dortmund, with six defeats, and their last win was back in August 2010 at Dortmund and have even failed to score against Borussia in the last three games.
"Currently, we are in front of Dortmund and aim to still be so after Sunday's game," said Leverkusen captain Simon Rolfes, with Bayer leading Borussia by just one point.
Dortmund are in great form after a convincing home win over Nuremberg and a 5-0 drubbing of Werder Bremen away to their credit.
Leverkusen were held to a goalless draw at Freiburg last time out, but striker Stefan Kiessling is pressing for a return to the Germany squad with 13 goals in 19 games so far this season.
Werder Bremen v Hanover 96
Schalke 04 v Greuther Fuerth
VfL Wolfsburg v Augsburg
Hoffenheim v Freiburg
Mainz 05 v Bayern Munich
Fortuna Dusseldorf v VfB Stuttgart
Hamburg v Eintracht Frankfurt
Nuremberg v Borussia M'gladbach
Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Dortmund