Mainz will push for Europe in the Rückrunde

Dennis Grombkowski

Behind the firepower of Nicolai Müller and Shinji Okazaki, Mainz will hope to book a place in Europe next year.

The Hinründe was all over the place for Mainz. They started strong, had a ridiculously bad dip in form, and then leveled out to end the year. This team is chock full of talented players that have European football in their eyesight.

What Went Right

Nicolai Müller and Shinji Okazaki

Adam Szalai scored 13 goals last season to lead Mainz, but then he left in the summer to join Schalke. The club used that money to buy Shinji Okazaki from Stuttgart, and he has formed an impressive partnership with Nicolai Müller. The two players have combined for 16 goals (8 each) in the Hinründe and look ready to lead Mainz to the next level.

Thomas Tuchel Stayed

Thomas Tuchel has been a sought after man for the last 18 months. He's been repeatedly link to the Schalke job, but they've managed to stick things out with Jens Keller to this point. He was also mentioned a few times when the Tottenham job was available after the dismissal of Andre Villas-Boas. However, regardless of how seriously linked he has been to any of these jobs, and luckily for Mainz, Tuchel has chosen to stay at the club. He's a fantastic manager, and Mainz supporters are going to have to deal with their manager being continually linked to "bigger and better" jobs for the foreseeable future.

What Went Wrong

Lost Five Out of Six

After a brilliant start to the Bundesliga campaign in which Mainz won their first three matches over Stuttgart, Freiburg and Wolfsburg, Mainz hit the skids. They lost 5 of their next 6 games, and the other match was a draw in which they had to score twice in the last 8 minutes to rescue a point. Mainz managed to level themselves out and finished the Hinründe with 24 points. That six match run could have spelled disaster for club, but they persisted and came away a better team because of it.

Second Half Outlook

If Mainz can keep up their solid play in the first half of the season, there's no reason to think that they can't qualify for Europe. Like any other side, Mainz will need to focus on scoring a few extra goals while conceding fewer. They're a talented team with an excellent coach. It would be a nice reward for the club.

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