With it being only their second season back at the top level of German football after a two year stint in the 2. Bundesliga and having a team replete with relatively unknown entities, the powers-that-be at Bruchweg could certainly have been forgiven for setting the team a mid-table target once again following a very successful ninth-place finish in the last campaign.
Yet Thomas Tuchel, the league’s youngest manager at 37 years-old, has made some amazingly shrewd acquisitions to his squad during the summer, and those players, coupled with his tactical nous and bounding enthusiasm for the game, has resulted in an astonishing start to the season that sees Mainz three points clear at the top having not dropped a single point.
Tuchel and his charges welcome Hamburg to Bruchweg on Saturday aware of the new league record they could well set, but you can be sure the manager will focus his players’ minds solely on the three points rather than any superficial records. Although he comes across as supremely relaxed, you also get the impression he is meticulous in his preparation of his team and thoroughly professional.
The 20 year-old midfielder Lewis Holtby, acquired from Schalke 04 on loan for the season, has played an important role in Mainz’s incendiary start. The German fledgling has scored two and set up six of his side’s 18 goals so far. He is a constant thorn in the side of opponents, with his magnet-like feet and knack of getting into good areas to create a goalscoring opportunity. He is certainly thriving under Tuchel’s tutelage, and Schalke, who are currently languishing in the bottom three, will be rueing letting him go.
Sami Allagui, Adam Szalai and Andre Sch