FSV Mainz 05 have had a superb first half to the season, that has culminated in them occupying a Europa League place during the winter break. A fantastic achievement for a club that has limited resources compared to other German heavyweights. One thing they do have though is a young exuberant coach in Thomas Tuchel.
Tuchel succeeded Jürgen Klopp at Mainz, and similarities can be drawn. A passionate figure on the touchline, with his flamboyant gestures and ardent support for his team are characteristics of the charismatic Klopp. Tuchel has equally impressed at Mainz as Klopp did, it can be argued he has done more with Mainz. In the 2010/2011 season he guided the 05ers to fifth position and into Europe, they currently sit sixth in the Bundesliga. What is most impressive with Tuchel is how he gets the best out of the players he has available to him. His aura, for one of such a young age, enables him to harmonise a squad of players and unite them into a force.
A force is indeed what Mainz have been so far. Especially at their Coface Arena, where they have won six out of eight, losing only to reigning champions Borussia Dortmund and promoted outfit Greuther Fürth. But with victories over the likes of Hannover 96 and Stuttgart, it is no surprise they are sitting high up the league standings. Additionally, Mainz have reached the quarter-finals of the DFB-Pokal, recently beating Schalke 04 2-1 in Gelsenkirchen.
Tuchel, as head coach, obviously is key to this success, but he has also had the help of one prolific goal scoring Hungarian, Ádám Szalai. The ex-Real Madrid Castilla player has notched an impressive nine goals so far in the league, including a hat-trick against Hoffenheim. Not the most elegant of strikers, but an influential figure within the attacking third, that has caused issues for many defences. Whether it be his powerful headers or a ferocious shot, Szalai is a handful.
Behind Szalai there is drive and determination within the midfield. Nicolai Müller epitomises this with a hard working attitude all over the pitch. But he has also got in on the scoring act, four so far in the Bundesliga. He is not the only one either; Andreas Ivanschitz has four goals to his name also. Here lies the key to Mainz. Their quest to succeed is balanced with a hard working determined attitude. This allows them to play with a high intensity in which they press the opposition high up the pitch. Tuchel is the architect.
Tuchel has also blended youngsters into his tactics. He has shown faith in youth and given opportunities to Marcel Risse, Shawn Parker and Jan Kirchhoff. They have all taken the chance to shine this season, with the results clear to see.
Despite a positive first half to the season, consistency is the next step for Mainz. Only two wins in nine away games have led to that inconsistency. If Tuchel can turn that around, then they sure can look towards consolidating themselves within the top half of the Bundesliga. They might need to as well, despite their impressive season so far, a tightly fought Bundesliga means there is only six points separating them in sixth, to Nürnberg in 14th.
That will not be a problem though if Tuchel and his men keep going in the direction they are. If their recent performances are replicated in the second half of the season, then another successful campaign looks on the cards. It is easy to see why Tuchel is being touted as a possible candidate for the Schalke 04 role next summer.
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