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Borussia Dortmund edged out Augsburg in a thrilling encounter at the weekend
Mainz could be dragged into a relegation battle this term if they are not careful
Dortmund should pick up a win - but a clean sheet could again be beyond them
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BVB have their weaknesses but their extra quality should tip this game in their favor.
Back Borussia Dortmund to beat Mainz on Wednesday. (+125)
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New year, new me? Not for Borussia Dortmund, who preferred to show that old habits die hard in their first Bundesliga fixture of 2023. A topsy-turvy 4-3 victory over Augsburg produced emotions that ran the full gamut for BVB supporters, who were once again left wondering why their team does not fancy doing things the easy way from time to time.
Three points are three points and many would argue that it is better to collect them by entertaining the masses than it is by boring them. At the same time, any coach will tell you that wins of that kind should be an aberration rather than the norm.
Yet Dortmund have made a habit of being involved in action-packed, end-to-end encounters - and the problem is that they sometimes go against them. Put simply, a team that cedes control so often is not equipped to win the Bundesliga title. Little wonder, then, that Dortmund head into the midweek round of fixtures down in the sixth spot.
In fairness to Dortmund, there were several positives to take from their seven-goal thriller against Augsburg.
For one, they scored four goals via four different players, with Jude Bellingham, Nico Schlotterbeck, Jamie Bynoe-Gittens and Gio Reyna all finding the back of the net. Schlotterbeck is the only member of that quartet that did not begin the season as a teenager.
But there is no getting away from the fact that Dortmund’s all-round showing was once again undermined by defensive sloppiness, both individually and collectively. BVB do not seem able to find the right balance between attack and defense. They have kept six clean sheets this term, but in four of those games, Edin Terzic’s side only scored one goal.
The best online sportsbooks still fancy Dortmund to finish in the top four, but this team is far from the finished article.
Mainz finished eighth in the Bundesliga last season, squeezing into the top half of the table after taking seven points from the last nine available. They began the current campaign with ambitions of matching that achievement, but if they are not careful Mainz could be dragged into a relegation battle.
There is a puzzling discrepancy between their results last season and those so far in 2022/23. Mainz were fantastic in front of their own fans last time out, with only Bayern Munich and Dortmund collecting more points at home. On the road, though, they were dismal, ending the campaign with the division’s second-worst away record.
The tables have turned this term. Bo Svensson’s side have won just one home game so far, with Augsburg the only team in the Bundesliga with a worse points tally on their own patch.
Mainz have instead been excellent on their travels, with Bayern, Eintracht Frankfurt, and Freiburg the only sides to have outdone them at opposition stadiums.
In their last few outings, Mainz have struggled no matter the location. A 1-1 draw with Frankfurt at the weekend was a decent result in isolation, but it means Svensson’s men have now gone four games without a win, stretching back to before World Cup 2022.
After a solid start to the season which had them up in the sixth spot after 11 rounds of fixtures, Mainz are now just five points above the relegation play-off place. There is no need for panic just yet, but Mainz must start picking up wins again soon.
Mainz’s poor home form in 2022/23 is one reason why odds of +125 on a Dortmund win look very tempting indeed.
Svensson’s side simply do not score enough goals at the MEWA Arena, which means BVB’s somewhat unconvincing backline might not be put under the type of pressure that Augsburg exerted on Sunday.
Another reason to strongly consider backing Dortmund is the fact that they are capable of some irresistible attacking soccer when they are on song. Yes, they did concede 1.93 expected goals to Augsburg, but they created 3.27 at the other end - a higher figure than any other team in the league on matchday 15.
Dortmund will not win the title this term - they are simply not consistent enough to finish above Bayern - but Terzic’s team should mount a challenge for second. Mainz were a tough nut to crack at home in 2021/22, but that has not been the case this campaign, and their confidence will be low after their downward slide down the standings.
Dortmund fans are no doubt hoping for a calmer, less eventful win on Wednesday. A clean sheet would be most welcome by Terzic, but we would advise bettors to keep it simple on this occasion and back Dortmund to win the match.
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Teams: Mainz vs Borussia Dortmund
Location: MEWA Arena, Mainz, Germany
Time: Wednesday 25 January 2023, 12.30 PM EST
How To Watch: ESPN+
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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