Mainz v Stuttgart – Coface Arena at 19:30 live on BT Sport Europe

Being a Stuttgart supporter, it’s difficult to see the Swabians struggling at the bottom end of the Bundesliga table. Only once before have VFB accrued as few points at this stage of the season as their current tally of 11 (W3-D2-L10) and in that season (1974/75) they were relegated.

Without a permanent coach since dismissing Alex Zorniger just 13 games into his first Bundesliga campaign, Stuttgart also possess the league’s worst defensive record this term. The visitors have leaked 36 goals – an average of 2.40 goals-per-game – and have won just once in seven on their travels (W1-D1-L5).

Yep, it’s probably no surprise to hear the relegation-haunted guests also boast the Bundesliga’s weakest away record, have conceded at least twice in 10 of their previous 12 domestic road trips and at least four in each of their last three on their top tier travels. Ouch.

It’s not hard to see where Stuttgart’s problems are. The numerous slapstick defensive errors have shown no sign of abating under interim manager Jürgen Kramny and the wide array of goalscoring chances they create have gone untaken. VFB need to find the right balance sooner than later.

A trip to revitalised Mainz on Friday night is unlikely to see Stuttgart’s problems solved. The Swabians have failed to pick up a point in any of their eight matches against clubs in the top-10 whilst they’ve lost each of their previous eight away days at top-half teams.

Mainz have taken 11 points from their last 15 available – only Dortmund have accumulated more in that spell – and can recall central midfielder Danny Latza from suspension this week. That unbeaten streak has allowed Martin Schmidt’s pen to pierce the top-nine yet again and they look a decent bet to make it three successive victories at the Coface Arena.

The O-Fivers hold a 12-point advantage over their struggling guests and boast a solid W4-D3-L0 home record against Stuttgart since 2005. With Yoshinori Muto in superb goalscoring form since joining the club and the majority of their biggest-hitters on show, I’m backing Mainz off a -0.75 Asian Handicap start at juicy 2.55 odds.

This fixture should produce goals – eight of Mainz’s last 10 when entertaining bottom-six dwellers have featured three goals or more whilst all of Stuttgart’s most recent 12 away days have followed suit – but backing a home success represents the best value betting proposition.

The O-Fivers have W7-D2-L6 under Schmidt’s charge at the Coface Arena with 5/8 victories arriving against the league’s lesser lights. Meanwhile, Stuttgart have been beaten in 13/24 (54%) fixtures on their travels since the start of last season.

Mainz should prove too good and could quite comfortably take the honours by at least two goals.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Mainz -0.75 at 2.55

Price correct at the time of writing.

By @MarkOHaire

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