Borussia Dortmund travel to Mainz on Tuesday night as they look to kickstart new boss Peter Stoger's reign with a win.
Stoger takes charge of Dortmund after Dutchman Peter Bosz was sacked following the defeat at home against Werder Bremen on the weekend. The sacking did not come as a surprise to many, as the team have experienced a dramatic downturn in form since the end of September.
✌️ Herzlich willkommen bei Borussia Dortmund, Peter Stöger! pic.twitter.com/WzkaWw8nCx— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) December 10, 2017
The appointment of Stoger came somewhat as a surprise to the Dortmund faithful, especially after the Austrian was sacked by bottom side FC Koln. Despite his poor recent history, Stoger has been a great servant to the Bundesliga so far and last season brought FC Koln to a fifth place finish.
As for the home side, they come into the game off the back of a great away point against high flying RB Leipzig. Die Nullfunfer have been relatively good this season, and currently sit 14th in the league. The visit of der BVB would have been a scary prospect at the beginning of the season, however on Tuesday night they will fancy themselves against a struggling Dortmund side.
In the 2014/15 season of the Bundesliga these two sides met at the Signal Iduna Park and what followed was something special.
Dortmund were favorites coming into the game, however it was the away side who took the lead early on. In the first minute, goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller's punch landed straight to the feet of Mainz midfielder Elkin Soto and the Colombian cleverly hit the ball first time from 30 yards which ended up in the back of the Dortmund net to give his side the lead.
Despite going into half time 1-0 down, Dortmund came out of the traps quickly and in the 49th minute Serbian Neven Subotic headed home from a corner to bring the score level. Not soon after the home side had the lead, German superstar Marco Reus rounded the Mainz goalkeeper and coolly slotted home.
To the surprise of the home fans, it was the Mainz who would score next, thanks to playmaker and now-Wolfsburg man Yunus Malli. The Turkish international brought the scores level again after a great curled finish from outside the box.
Dortmund kicked on after Malli's goal, and what happened next was a thing of beauty. In the 71st minute, Reus played the ball with the outside of his right foot which cut the Mainz defence apart. The ball found its way to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the Gabon striker rolled the ball home to restore the home side's advantage.
In the 77th minute Turkish international Nuri Sahin volleyed home Dortmund's fourth of the game, after a free kick from Aubameyang was parried by goalkeeper Stefanos Kapino.
The home side won 4-2, in what was manager's Jurgen Klopp's last year in charge.
Gbamin vs Aubameyang
Jean Philippe Gbamin has been outstanding for Mainz this season. The Ivory Coast international has played in nearly every game for his side this campaign. Mainly a central defensive midfielder, the 22-year old filled in for Stefan Bell on the weekend and made up a vital part of the back three.
Aubameyang will be hoping to continue his goalscoring streak, after the Gabon man scored again at the weekend and Gbamin will be kept busy regardless if he deployed in defence or midfield. This battle will be key for the overall outcome of the match, as if Gbamin can stop the supply line to Aubameyang then his side would have an excellent chance at snatching all three points.
Brosinski vs Pulisic
German defender Daniel Brosinski has chipped in with three goals and three assists in the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal so far this season. Along with his attacking threat, the German has proved his ability to defend and will need to be on his game come Tuesday.
American Christian Pulisic continues to gain admirers with every passing game. The USA international has matured massively since last season, and has been tipped for a big money move next summer.
This battle will depend on who is defending more. If Pulisic is pushed back then one of Dortmund's best attacking outlets would be rendered useless. As for Brosinski, if Pulisic begins to dictate the game, then the German could find himself in for a long 90 minutes.
Vice-captain Bell missed the draw away at Leipzig on the weekend, but could return on Tuesday. Japan international Yoshinori Muto is a doubt for the game however with a back injury. Midfielder Danny Latza is one booking away from suspension after picking up four yellow cards already this season.
No new injury concerns for new boss Stoger heading into the game, with Marco Reus, Mario Gotze and a whole host of big names still out until the New Year.
Mainz 05 (4-2-3-1): Hitz - Brosinski, Gbamin, Bell, Max - Frei, Latza - Maxim, Oztunali, Fischer - Finnbogason.
Borussia Dortmund (3-4-3): Burki - Sokratis, Bartra, Schmelzer - Toljan, Dahoud, Sahin, Guerreiro - Pulisic, Aubameyang, Yarmolenko.
It is hard to predict the type of reaction that new boss Stoger can provoke from his side. The Austrian will set his team out to be hard to beat, and therefore a draw is on the cards.
Mainz 05 2-2 Borussia Dortmund