Preview: Heidenheim vs. Mainz 05 - prediction, team news, lineups
Source: Sportsmole

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Bundesliga clash between Heidenheim and Mainz 05, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Looking to continue their unlikely pursuit of a place in Europe next year, Heidenheim will welcome relegation-threatened Mainz 05 to Voith Arena for an all-important Bundesliga clash on Sunday evening.

FCH are hunting down a spot in the top seven after an extraordinary maiden campaign at this level, whereas Die Nullfunfer are simply attempting to preserve their top-tier status.

Match preview FC Heidenheim coach Frank Schmidt before the match on January 13, 2024 Reuters

Since returning from the calendar year's first international break in March, Heidenheim have enjoyed a productive run of just the single defeat in their last five Bundesliga matches to strengthen their outside chances of earning a spot in the Europa Conference League next season.

Having only gained promotion out of regional football in the lower leagues of the German game in 2009, FCH are on the verge of another sensational achievement to put alongside a long list of honours collected by Frank Schmidt's troops over the past 15 years en route to the top flight.

Instead of worrying about their own relegation chances this season, Heidenheim have been wielding the axe on their Bundesliga counterparts in recent weeks, defeating SV Darmstadt 98 1-0 last Sunday, sentencing the hosts at Merck-Stadion to an immediate return to the second division.

Heading into the final three matches of their first-ever Bundesliga campaign, FCH are currently occupying 10th position in the top-flight standings, just three points behind seventh-placed Freiburg, who are set to play Conference League football next term if the table remains the same.

As is the case for the majority of high-performing underdogs at this level, FCH have made their home a real fortress this season with many of the division's big hitters failing to win at Voith Arena, with Sunday's hosts even managing to beat Thomas Tuchel's Bayern Munich in Heidenheim on April 6.

Mainz's improvement in recent weeks under new leadership continued last Sunday, when Die Nullfunfer extended their unbeaten run in the Bundesliga to six matches with a 1-1 draw against FC Koln at MEWA Arena, but it could have been significantly better for the hosts in the relegation six-pointer.

Netting his third league goal of the campaign, Luxembourg international Leandro Barreiro put Mainz ahead against the Billy Goats, but the hosts were unable to hold on for maximum points, with Florian Kainz scoring an added-time penalty after Gian-Luca Waldschmidt had failed to hold his nerve from 12 yards earlier in the contest.

Since being demolished 8-1 at the Allianz Arena by Bayern Munich, Die Nullfunfer have earned a commendable tally of 12 points from their last six Bundesliga matches, meaning that they are on the brink of escaping the bottom three, lying only two points behind 15th-placed Bochum.

Much of Mainz's turnaround in fortunes can be credited to the arrival of Bo Henriksen in the managerial hotseat during February, with the Danish coach losing just two of his nine matches in charge of the club so far, collecting four wins along the way.

Die Nullfunfer's struggles on the road in the Bundesliga are no secret, with Sunday's visitors to Heidenheim failing to win any of their 15 league outings so far in 2023-24, with only fellow strugglers Bochum (seven) earning fewer points in away contests than Mainz's eight.

Heidenheim Bundesliga form:

Mainz 05 Bundesliga form:

Team News Heidenheim's Jan-Niklas Beste celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on November 11, 2023 Reuters

Heidenheim remain without the services of attacking midfielder Adrian Beck, who has not featured in a competitive sense since early April due to an ankle injury.

The hosts will also be unable to call upon the talents of fellow attacker Kevin Sessa, with the 23-year-old sidelined until late May because of a calf strain.

Lennard Maloney has been a regular fixture in FCH's engine room this term, providing plenty of defensive stability, but the American is currently out of action recovering from a shoulder injury.

After receiving his marching orders in the draw with Koln last time out, wide man Philipp Mwene will be unavailable for Mainz this weekend.

Die Nullfunfer will therefore require a new face at wing-back, with 31-year-old Silvan Widmer an obvious candidate to be promoted from the bench.

Heidenheim possible starting lineup:Muller; Fohrenbach, Mainka, Gimber, Theuerkauf; Schoppner, Dinkci, Sessa, Beste; Kleindienst, Pieringer

Mainz 05 possible starting lineup:Zentner; Kohr, Van den Berg, Hanche-Olsen; Caci, Barreiro, Papela, Widmer; Burkardt, Ajorque; Richter

We say: Heidenheim 2-1 Mainz 05 Considering their strong record at Voith Arena, we are expecting a competent performance from Heidenheim on Sunday, leading to back-to-back Bundesliga victories.

Mainz are going well under fresh management, but a host of injuries and suspensions could cost them dearly on their travels in this one.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.