Success of Mainz shows a Bundesliga changing of the guard
This weekend saw a surge of unpredictability in the Premier League. Manchetser United, Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal collected one point between them. But if you think this was weird, take a look at our German cousins. Champions Bayern sit ninth, whereas Schalke, who finished second last season, are second from bottom in the table.
But neither of these are the story of the season.
Last season Mainz 05 finished ninth in the Bundesliga, their first season after promotion. This season, the club are revitalised. Going into this gameweek, they had won all five of their games, the only team unbeaten in the league. Even so, this had slightly slipped under the radar. On Saturday they played away at Bayern Munich. This was the time that the record was set straight. This was Mainz being put in their place.
Except that it didn’t happen. Mainz stunned the German champions, thoroughly deserving their 2-1 win, sealed by Hungarian striker Adam Szalai. Seventy thousand fans were left truly impressed by the new upstarts.
This feat cannot be overstated.
This is a club that brought in five players over the summer on permanent deals. Only one of these is from a top league club. Their squad includes ex-Barnsley goalkeeper Heinz Muller. Their four strikers have an average age of 22. They hail from a town with the same population as Dudley.
Their coach, Thomas Tuchel, is only in his second year as a senior coach. I will not elaborate too much on this, as their will be a profile on the man tomorrow, but it is fair to say that he doesn’t necessarily fit the mould of German coaches.
Perhaps the best thing for English fans is that the centre midfield star Lewis Holtby, who is captain of the German U21 team, would potentially prefer to switch allegiances to England. Holtby and Wilshere, you heard it here first.
The rule, of course, is that nothing is won in September. This is not entirely true. Titles are not won in September. Trophies are not won in September. But plaudits, fans, respect and compliments can all be won by September. And Mainz have certainly done that.