Schalke v Mainz – VELTINS-Arena at 14:30

Schalke are in crisis. The Royal Blues slipped to their fifth successive Bundesliga loss to start the new season to sit marooned at the bottom of the table, two points adrift of the pack.

There was an acknowledgment on both sides that their latest loss at Freiburg (0-1) was harsh on the visitors, though questions are now being asked of the club’s hierarchy who opted to offer rookie head coach Domenico Tedesco a long-term deal after guiding the Gelsenkirchen club to second last year.

Having finished in the bottom-half before his arrival, it was a remarkable turnaround under Tedesco last season as they finished eight points ahead of third. Schalke was impressive defensively as they conceded only 37 times, with 13 of their 18 triumphs arriving alongside a clean sheet.

In 2018/19, the Royal Blues have yet to silence any of their opponents, shipping at least twice on four occasions. And with an attack that’s failed to really function, it’s easy to see how and why Schalke aren’t progressing as well as pre-season predictions suggested.

The summer departures of Leon Goretzka, Max Meyer and Marko Pjaca have played a part, with the former almost irreplaceable. The Gelsenkirchen club managed just five wins in the 13 games he failed to start (38%), compared with 13 wins in the 21 he did line-up (62%) in, highlighting his importance.

The betting angle

Nevertheless, a return home to the Veltins Arena – where Schalke W10-D5-L2 the last term – and an encounter against a Mainz side that allowed Leverkusen to break their own losing run should give the hosts a great chance in finally getting off the mark.

Even so, I wouldn’t be rushing to back Schalke and instead find the 1.98 price on Under 2.5 Goals too good to turn down. It’s a selection that proved profitable in 20 of the Royal Blues’ 34 fixtures in 2017/18, and 13/19 (68%) as hosts since the start of last season.

In the same sample, Mainz have followed suit in 11/19 (58%) away days, failing to score on eight occasions. The 05ers are notoriously poor travelers – winning twice in 25 Bundesliga games as guests – but have performed with aplomb, for the most part, this term.

Head coach Sandro Schwarz has stayed on after pulling the club clear of relegation in the latter stages of last season and another survival battle is anticipated this time around, even if the visitors have suffered a solitary loss in their five early-season encounters.

Mainz have only scored four goals – failing to net in their most recent two tussles – and the summer sale of top scorer Yoshinori Muto could catch-up with the club. The 05ers scored 26% fewer goals-per-game in the 14 matches he failed to start compared to with him in the starting XI and that inadequate attack can play its part in a low-scoring Saturday showdown.

Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 2.50 goals at 0.920

Preview by: @MarkOHaire.

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