Confidently climbing the table

1. FSV Mainz 05 were looking over their shoulders in the table after 15 rounds of matches, with only four points separating them from the relegation play-off place. But with five games gone in the second half of the season, Mainz will head into their clash with TSG Hoffenheim (Saturday at 15:30 CET / Live Ticker at dreaming of Europe once again. The Zero-Fivers are high on confidence – and armed with an attacking trio that is tough to defend against.

There are unlikely to be many concerns about a possible relegation in the capital of Rhineland-Palatinate at present. 1. FSV Mainz 05 will head into Matchday 23 with a 13-point cushion over TSG Hoffenheim, who occupy the relegation play-off place. If seventh spot is to be enough to qualify for the UEFA Conference League, then the men from Mainz are only one point from Europe.

The reason for the change in mood in Mainz is the strong start to the second half-season. Mainz have won four of their five games, losing only at Union Berlin (2-1). Bochum (5-2), Augsburg (3-1) and Mönchengladbach (4-0) have all been swept aside at the MEWA Arena.

Coach Bo Svensson, whose presence on the touchline against TSG is in doubt due to illness, predominantly has his goalscorers to thank for the victories. Karim Onisiwo, Marcus Ingvartsen and Jae-Sung Lee have scored 23 goals between this so far this season. South Korean Lee in particular has been in top form for weeks and has already notched five goals and two assists this year. Ingvartsen and Onisiwo have found the net four times each in 2023. But it remains unclear whether Onisiwo can play on Saturday. The Austrian has recently been out with knee problems.

Mainz will be hoping for a win on Saturday to keep up the pressure on the teams above them, but TSG will be keen to bring FSV's good run to an end. Their 4-1 win in the reverse fixture certainly bodes well.

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