Cologne created a display from shirts provided by fans for their Bundesliga home game against Mainz on Sunday.

Germany's top flight this weekend returned from a two-month suspension caused by the coronavirus pandemic, though all remaining fixtures will be played behind closed doors.

Cologne asked supporters if they wanted any memorabilia placed in the stands to ensure they still had some kind of presence in the RheinEnergieStadion.

The club then used the shirts, scarves and stuffed replicas of goat mascot Hennes to create a brilliant show - known as a tifo - out of the empty seats.

Alongside a trio of photographs of the end product, Cologne tweeted: "We asked #effzeh fans if they wanted to hand over their lucky scarf or kit to be placed in the stadium for the upcoming games.

"It's not the same as you being there and it never will be, but thank you."

Borussia Monchengladbach have also attempted to cover empty seats at their stadium by sticking photos of fans onto cardboard cut-outs.

Bundesliga leaders and defending champions Bayern Munich make their return to action at Union Berlin in Sunday's late kick-off.

The first of Europe's top five leagues to resume amid the coronavirus pandemic, Germany's top flight gets back under way on Saturday.

Bayern could see their advantage at the summit cut to just one point if Borussia Dortmund beat rivals Schalke.

Hansi Flick's side are then involved in one of two Sunday matches - before another follows on Monday.

With the help of Opta, we take a look at the key numbers from the final three fixtures of this matchweek.
 

Cologne v Mainz

8 - Mainz have not won on any of their eight Bundesliga trips to Cologne (D4 L4). They have not faced any other side away in the top flight as often without winning. Meanwhile, only against Eintracht Braunschweig (20 games) do Cologne have a better unbeaten home Bundesliga record.

24 - Cologne have won eight of their past 11 league games, losing only to leaders Bayern, second-placed Dortmund and fourth-placed Borussia Monchengladbach. Since matchweek 15, they have collected 24 points - trailing only Bayern (31) and BVB (25).

7 - January loan signing Mark Uth has been involved in at least one goal in each of his first seven league games for Cologne (four goals, four assists).
 

Union Berlin v Bayern Munich

2 - These sides are meeting in a competitive match for just the second time. Their first clash earlier this season ended in a 2-1 Bayern win in Munich.

1866 - Bayern will play their 1866th Bundesliga match, moving level with Hamburg in the all-time list. Only Werder Bremen (1890) have been involved in more top-flight games.

4 - The defending champions have a four-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga table for the first time this season. They have never thrown away an advantage this big this late in a season.

3 - Bayern have scored at least three times in each of their past five away league matches, setting a Bundesliga record.

73 - Flick's outfit have 73 goals in their first 25 league games this term. Only Bayern themselves in 1973-74 and 2013-14 (both 24) have topped that tally at this stage of a campaign.

5 - Union have five wins in their past eight home league games, keeping a clean sheet in each of these victories. However, Sunday's hosts have conceded three or more goals in four of their eight matches since the Bundesliga's mid-season break.
 

Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen

62 - Leverkusen have scored more away Bundesliga goals at Werder than they have against any other side.

6 - Bremen have lost their six most recent Bundesliga home games, failing to score in each of their past five at home - setting a pair of unwanted club top-flight records.

21 - Werder have dropped more points from winning positions than any other side in the Bundesliga this season.

19 - Bayer have 19 points from their eight matches since the mid-season break, their joint-best ever start to a Ruckrunde (also 19 points from eight games in 1999-2000).

The Bundesliga is back and the new schedule has been confirmed by the German Football League (DFL).

After the German government on Wednesday granted permission for the top two tiers to return behind closed doors, DFL chief executive Christian Seifert confirmed games will get back under way on May 16.

The Revierderby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke will headline the first group of matches, while league leaders Bayern Munich are in action next Sunday and Bayer Leverkusen will travel to Werder Bremen the following day.

The rest of the Bundesliga season has also been mapped out, with the eight rounds of fixtures – and Werder's game in hand against Eintracht Frankfurt – to be contested before the final day on June 27.

 

Matchday 26 (all times local):
May 16 – 15:30: Borussia Dortmund v Schalke
May 16 – 15:30: RB Leipzig v Freiburg
May 16 – 15:30: Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin
May 16 – 15:30: Fortuna Dusseldorf v Paderborn
May 16 – 15:30: Augsburg v Wolfsburg
May 16 – 18:30: Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Monchengladbach
May 17 – 15:30: Cologne v Mainz
May 17 – 18:00: Union Berlin v Bayern Munich
May 18 – 20:30: Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen

Matchday 27 (from May 22-24):
Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt
Borussia Monchengladbach v Bayer Leverkusen
Wolfsburg v Borussia Dortmund
Hertha Berlin v Union Berlin
Mainz v RB Leipzig
Freiburg v Werder Bremen
Schalke v Augsburg
Cologne v Fortuna Dusseldorf
Paderborn v Hoffenheim

Matchday 28 (May 26-27):
Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich
RB Leipzig v Hertha Berlin
Bayer Leverkusen v Wolfsburg
Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg
Werder Bremen v Borussia Monchengladbach
Hoffenheim v Cologne
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Schalke
Augsburg v Paderborn
Union Berlin v Mainz

Matchday 29 (May 29-June 1):
Bayern Munich v Fortuna Dusseldorf
Borussia Monchengladbach v Union Berlin
Wolfsburg v Eintracht Frankfurt
Hertha Berlin v Augsburg
Mainz v Hoffenheim
Freiburg v Bayer Leverkusen
Schalke v Werder Bremen
Cologne v RB Leipzig
Paderborn v Borussia Dortmund

Matchday 24 (June 2/3):
Werder Bremen v Eintracht Frankfurt

Matchday 30 (June 5-8):
Borussia Dortmund v Hertha Berlin
RB Leipzig v Paderborn
Bayer Leverkusen v Bayern Munich
Eintracht Frankfurt v Mainz
Werder Bremen v Wolfsburg
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Hoffenheim
Freiburg v Borussia Monchengladbach
Augsburg v Cologne
Union Berlin v Schalke

Matchday 31 (June 12-14):
Bayern Munich v Borussia Monchengladbach
Wolfsburg v Freiburg
Hoffenheim v RB Leipzig
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Borussia Dortmund
Hertha Berlin v Eintracht Frankfurt
Mainz v Augsburg
Schalke v Bayer Leverkusen
Cologne v Union Berlin
Paderborn v Werder Bremen

Matchday 32 (June 16-17):
Borussia Dortmund v Mainz
RB Leipzig v Fortuna Dusseldorf
Bayer Leverkusen v Cologne
Borussia Monchengladbach v Wolfsburg
Eintracht Frankfurt v Schalke
Werder Bremen v Bayern Munich
Freiburg v Hertha Berlin
Augsburg v Hoffenheim
Union Berlin v Paderborn

Matchday 33 (all at 15:30 local time on June 20):
Bayern Munich v Freiburg
RB Leipzig v Borussia Dortmund
Hoffenheim v Union Berlin
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Augsburg
Hertha Berlin v Bayer Leverkusen
Mainz v Werder Bremen
Schalke v Wolfsburg
Cologne v Eintracht Frankfurt
Paderborn v Borussia Monchengladbach

Matchday 34 (all at 15:30 local time on June 27):
Borussia Dortmund v Hoffenheim
Bayer Leverkusen v Mainz
Borussia Monchengladbach v Hertha Berlin
Wolfsburg v Bayern Munich
Eintracht Frankfurt v Paderborn
Werder Bremen v Cologne
Freiburg v Schalke
Augsburg v RB Leipzig
Union Berlin v Fortuna Dusseldorf

The Bundesliga has been given the green light by the German government to return in May, so football fans across the globe can look forward to live, top-level football matches once again.

The suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic means there are nine full rounds of fixtures left to play – Eintracht Frankfurt and Werder Bremen will contest their game in hand against one another – and the German Football League is set to announce a resumption date on Thursday.

Can Bayern Munich, who sit four points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the summit, hold off their challengers and win the Bundesliga for the eighth year in a row? Which team from the top five will fail to qualify for the Champions League? Who is destined for the drop?

We take a look at the key remaining fixtures - all of which will take place behind closed doors - that could provide the answers to those questions, though it remains to be seen if they will be played on the matchdays they were initially scheduled for.

 

MD26: Borussia Dortmund v Schalke

The Revierderby is always a match to look forward to and Schalke would no doubt take great pleasure in denting Dortmund's title ambitions by securing a positive result at Signal Iduna Park.

MD27: Borussia Monchengladbach v Bayer Leverkusen

It seems unlikely Leverkusen or Gladbach will be able to gain enough ground on Bayern to launch a late title challenge, though stranger things have happened. This clash could well be key to deciding who earns a spot in the top four and consequently next season's Champions League.

MD28: Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich

It does not get much bigger than Der Klassiker in the Bundesliga. Lose this match and Dortmund will essentially be kissing goodbye to their hopes of winning the league for the first time since 2012.

MD31: Bayern Munich v Borussia Monchengladbach

Regardless of how Bayern do against Dortmund, they will need a positive result against Gladbach, who, along with RB Leipzig, could still be in the hunt for the title. Marco Rose's side won the reverse fixture this season and claimed a shock 3-0 victory in their previous visit to the Allianz Arena.

MD31: Paderborn v Werder Bremen

Rooted to the foot of the table, Paderborn look destined for an immediate return to the 2. Bundesliga. A win over Bremen could change that, but this is huge too for the four-time Bundesliga champions. Bremen will know they cannot afford to lose this match if they are to avoid suffering relegation for the first time since 1980.

MD33: RB Leipzig v Borussia Dortmund

If Bayern are still within reach when Leipzig and Dortmund go head to head at the Red Bull Arena, this game could prove pivotal to keeping title ambitions alive. For the losers, their hopes of Champions League qualification could be placed in doubt.

MD33: Wolfsburg v Schalke

Breaking into the top five looks out of reach for Wolfsburg and Schalke, who are separated by just one point. With Freiburg level with Wolfsburg on 36 points and Hoffenheim one back in ninth, this game will likely have Europa League qualification riding on it.

MD34: Mainz v Werder Bremen

Bremen will be hoping to pull off a great escape when the season resumes and a victory over Mainz, who are eight points ahead of Florian Kohfeldt's side and four clear of the relegation play-off spot, will likely be essential if survival remains a possibility. It could be a very nervy encounter at Opel Arena.

Aside from in the Bundesliga, the resumption of football in Europe's top five leagues still appears some way off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Players have had plenty of time to analyse their performances this season and we have previously used Opta data to examine some of the best attacking and passing numbers from 2019-20. Now it's the turn of the defence.

We have analysed nine metrics for defenders to have featured in at least 10 league games this season, thereby giving us a good summary of those who have led the way at the back.

The metrics include success rates in duels, tackling and aerial challenges, and for these we have only included players who have completed 20 actions in each category, which accounts to two per game.

The below therefore provides a good indication of who has been excelling in defence. There are some familiar names, but also others you might not be expecting...

THE BEST DEFENDING STATS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20:

BUNDESLIGA:

Most tackles won: Kingsley Ehizibue (47)
Best tackle success: Rafael Czichos (90.63 per cent)
Most duels won: Christopher Lenz (180)
Best duel success: Salif Sane (73.08 per cent)
Most aerials won: Robin Koch (88)
Best aerial success: Salif Sane (87.76 per cent)
Most clearances: Dedryck Boyata (120)
Most interceptions: Nico Elvedi (58)
Most blocks: Dedryck Boyata (24)

LALIGA:

Most tackles won: Marc Cucurella (41)
Best tackle success: Jaume Costa (84 per cent)
Most duels won: Pervis Estupinan (181)
Best duel success: Jose Gimenez (72.5 per cent)
Most aerials won: David Garcia (109)
Best aerial success: David Garcia (77.3 per cent)
Most clearances: Mohammed Salisu (136)
Most interceptions: Kiko Olivas and Unai Bustinza (48)
Most blocks: Gabriel Paulista (26)

LIGUE 1:

Most tackles won: Issiaga Sylla and Fabien Centonze (49)
Best tackle success: Bafode Diakite (82.61 per cent)
Most duels won: Issiaga Sylla (207)
Best duel success: Presnel Kimpembe (68.85 per cent)
Most aerials won: Pablo (114)
Best aerial success: Leo Dubois (76.92 per cent)
Most clearances: Damien da Silva (138)
Most interceptions: Issiaga Sylla (67)
Most blocks: Jason Denayer (29)

PREMIER LEAGUE:

Most tackles won: Ricardo Pereira (68)
Best tackle success: Serge Aurier (78.38 per cent)
Most duels won: Ricardo Pereira (256)
Best duel success: Virgil van Dijk (74.9 per cent)
Most aerials won: James Tarkowski (145)
Best aerial success: Bernardo (83.33 per cent)
Most clearances: Jan Bednarek (158)
Most interceptions: Diego Rico (62)
Most blocks: James Tarkowski and Tyrone Mings (37)

SERIE A:

Most tackles won: Stefano Sabelli (36)
Best tackle success: Samir (80 per cent)
Most duels won: Stefano Sabelli (176)
Best duel success: Bruno Alves (78.38 per cent)
Most aerials won: Amir Rrahmani (145)
Best aerial success: Bruno Alves (87.18 per cent)
Most clearances: Jhon Chancellor (134)
Most interceptions: Armando Izzo (58)
Most blocks: Andrea Cistana (34)

AND THE TOP NINE:

Most tackles won: Ricardo Pereira (68)
Best tackle success: Rafael Czichos (90.63 per cent)
Most duels won: Ricardo Pereira (256)
Best duel success: Bruno Alves (78.38 per cent)
Most aerials won: James Tarkowski and Amir Rrahmani (145)
Best aerial success: Salif Sane (87.76 per cent)
Most clearances: Jan Bednarek (158)
Most interceptions: Issiaga Sylla (67)
Most blocks: James Tarkowski and Tyrone Mings (37)

The futures of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe continue to make headlines.

Both Paris Saint-Germain players have been linked with big moves to LaLiga.

But coronavirus could scupper their plans.

 

TOP STORY – CORONAVIRUS TO STOP NEYMAR & MBAPPE EXITS

Paris Saint-Germain expect star pair Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to stay at the Ligue 1 champions due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to L'Equipe.

Neymar has been tipped to re-join Barcelona, while Real Madrid hold a strong interest in Mbappe.

But COVID-19 is wreaking havoc globally and the financial implications, which are expected to prompt a fall in transfer fees, could see the pair remain in Paris.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo says Inter have turned down an exchange deal for Lautaro Martinez from Barca. LaLiga champions Barca offered Junior Firpo and Nelson Semedo as part of a deal to bring Martinez to Camp Nou, however, they were rebuffed.

Matthijs de Ligt wants to leave Juventus and his agent Mino Raiola is determined to take the Dutch defender to Madrid, reports ABC. De Ligt has also been linked to Premier League giants Manchester United. The 20-year-old only moved to Turin last year.

Milan are "dreaming" of signing Inter's Mauro Icardi, claims Corriere dello Sport. Icardi – not wanted by Inter – is on loan at PSG but the Argentina international reportedly wants to return to Serie A. The report comes amid speculation ex-Inter head coach Luciano Spalletti could be appointed by Milan for the 2020-21 season. Icardi has also been heavily linked to Juve.

- Calciomercato says Harry Kane to Juventus could be a possibility in the coming months, however, a deal with Tottenham is almost impossible amid the coronavirus pandemic.

- Milan captain and defender Alessio Romagnoli has emerged as a target for Barca, according to Sport. If Romagnoli leaves San Siro, Thiago Silva could return. Tuttosport says the 35-year-old PSG defender, who is out of contract at season's end, is thinking about returning to Milan.

Napoli are in the hunt for a replacement for Arkadiusz Milik, reports Gazzetta dello Sport. Milik is contracted until 2021 but the Polish striker is no closer to a new deal amid links to Milan. If he does leave, Napoli's list of targets includes Inter's Genoa Andrea Pinamonti, Madrid forward Luka Jovic and Mainz attacker Jean-Philippe Mateta.

- Calciomercato says Juve have decided to sell midfielder Miralem Pjanic to free up space in the squad and raise funds. Meanwhile, Gianluca Di Marzio claims Federico Bernardeschi will leave Juve following the arrival of Dejan Kulusevski.

The resumption of football in Europe's top five leagues still appears some way off due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving players with plenty of time to analyse their performances this season.

Using Opta data, we have already examined some of the worst attacking and passing numbers from 2019-20, so now it's the turn of the defence.

We have analysed nine metrics for defenders to have featured in at least 10 league games this season, thereby giving us a good summary of those whose defending could use some improvement.

The metrics include success rates in duels, tackling and aerial challenges, errors leading to shots and goals and how many times a player has been dribbled past by an opponent.

As always when it comes to data, context is key. For success rates in duels, tackling and aerial challenges we have only included players who have completed 20 actions in each category, which accounts to two per game.

The below therefore provides a good indication on where improvement is needed, and there are a few surprising names…

 

THE WORST DEFENDING STATS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20:

BUNDESLIGA:

Most tackles lost: William (29)
Worst tackle success: Alexander Hack (40.91 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Robin Koch (3)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Robin Koch (3)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: William (32)
Most duels lost: Stefan Lainer (125)
Worst duel success: Julian Ryerson (35 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Robin Koch and Sven Bender (56)
Worst aerial success: Christian Gunter (22.86 per cent)

LALIGA:

Most tackles lost: Pervis Estupinan (34)
Worst tackle success: Nacho Monreal (40 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Joseph Aidoo and Sergio Ramos (2)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Pervis Estupinan (5)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Marc Cucurella (35)
Most duels lost: Marc Cucurella (167)
Worst duel success: Daniel Carrico (40.3 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Didac Vila (55)
Worst aerial success: Xavi Quintilla (25.71 per cent)

LIGUE 1:

Most tackles lost: Boubacar Kamara (33)
Worst tackle success: Lionel Carole (34.78 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Sofiane Alakouch, Timothee Kolodziejczak and Stefan Mitrovic (2)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Wesley Fofana, Alexander Djiku and Malang Sarr (4)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Arturo Calabresi (42)
Most duels lost: Issiaga Sylla (161)
Worst duel success: Colin Dagba (40 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Pablo Martinez (59)
Worst aerial success: Hamza Mendyl (17.39 per cent)

PREMIER LEAGUE:

Most tackles lost: Ricardo Pereira (50)
Worst tackle success: Calum Chambers (38.46 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Jan Bednarek (3)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Jan Bednarek, Tyrone Mings, John Egan, Davinson Sanchez and James Tarkowski (4)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Ricardo Pereira (53)
Most duels lost: Ricardo Pereira (215)
Worst duel success: Benjamin Mendy (37.38 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Ben Mee (84)
Worst aerial success: Max Aarons (26.09 per cent)

SERIE A:

Most tackles lost: Matteo Darmian (32)
Worst tackle success: Andrea Cistana (40 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Jhon Chancellor, Fabio Lucioni, Jose Luis Palomino, Alex Sandro (2)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Fabio Lucioni (5)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Stefano Sabelli (40)
Most duels lost: Giovanni Di Lorenzo (126)
Worst duel success: Hans Hateboer (40.63 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Mattia Bani (57)
Worst aerial success: Jeremy Toljan (28.00 per cent)

AND THE TOP NINE:

Most tackles lost: Ricardo Pereira (50)
Worst tackle success: Lionel Carole (34.78 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Robin Koch and Jan Bednarek (3)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Pervis Estupinan and Fabio Lucioni (5)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Ricardo Pereira (53)
Most duels lost: Ricardo Pereira (215)
Worst duel success: Julian Ryerson (35 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Ben Mee (84)
Worst aerial success: Hamza Mendyl (17.39 per cent)

Hansi Flick was disappointed Bayern Munich took their foot off the pedal after 30 minutes of a 3-1 win at Mainz, although he was "thrilled" with a dominant initial spell.

Bayern all but sealed victory inside 26 minutes of Saturday's Bundesliga clash, scoring through in-form trio Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller and Thiago Alcantara.

But Mainz hit back through Jeremiah St. Juste on the stroke of half-time, and the defending champions, who moved top with victory, failed to rediscover their impressive early rhythm.

Head coach Flick was left a little disappointed by what he saw from his side in the final hour.

"I am happy that we won a sixth game in a row," he said. "I was thrilled with the first 30 minutes. After that, we showed too little, we slowed down.

"At the corner [from which St Juste scored] just before the break, I would have liked the team to be a little different. Then after the break, we slowed it down.

"You have to say that these 60 minutes were not 'Bayern-like'.

"But Mainz have their qualities in attack, which they have shown a few times today. We defended against them well and are going home with three points."

Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic had little issue with the way Bayern saw the game out, however.

"This Mainz team is very dangerous with fast players up front," he said. "That's why we always had to be careful.

"So, we are satisfied, we won. We played through to the end and did our job."

In the league, Bayern next face title rivals RB Leipzig, who rescued a late point at home to Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday but still dropped to second.

A fine goal from Thiago Alcantara was the highlight as Bayern Munich cruised to a 3-1 victory away to Mainz, their sixth straight Bundesliga triumph.

Bayern go two points clear at the top ahead of RB Leipzig, who have a chance to return to the summit when they play Borussia Monchengladbach later on Saturday.

The visitors were three up inside 26 minutes at Opel Arena, with Robert Lewandowski's 22nd top-flight goal of the campaign setting them on their way.

For the third straight game, both Thomas Muller and Thiago scored, as Jeremiah St. Juste's first-half header no more than a consolation.

Having reached 58 goals in their first 20 matches, a club record, Hansi Flick's side have huge momentum going into a huge match against Leipzig next week.

Mainz, meanwhile, have lost six of their last seven league matches and sit just three points off the bottom.

They had conceded six times in their last two meetings with Bayern and it only took eight minutes for the German champions to move in front, Lewandowski sending a thumping header past goalkeeper Robin Zentner from eight yards after Benjamin Pavard picked him out with a pinpoint cross from the right.

It was two just six minutes later, as Lewandowski ran in on goal and collided with Zentner, prompting Leon Goretzka to gather the loose ball and square for Muller to convert with a simple finish.

A clever Leandro Barreiro effort struck the post at the other end and Mainz were left to rue that near miss after 26 minutes, when Thiago took a pass from Alphonso Davies 25 yards and embarked on a weaving run past Pierre Kunde, St. Juste and Barreiro, before firing in with a left-footed finish.

St. Juste got one back in the last minute of the first half, heading in Daniel Brosinski's corner via a heavy deflection off Goretzka.

A quiet second period almost had a tense finale only for Thiago to make a decisive challenge as Mainz substitute Adam Szalai bore down on goal, while Lewandowski screwed wide from a late chance to make it four.

What does it mean? Bayern flying ahead of top-of-the-table clash

A key contest against Leipzig awaits next week, where depending on their rivals' result against Gladbach they will either go in top or just one point behind. With six straight wins, in which they have scored 23 times, Bayern are in great shape.

Lethal Lewandowski not slowing down

Lewandowski's impressive early header set the tone and he also created four chances for his team-mates. The clinical 31-year-old frontman has already matched his league goals tally for the whole of last season, though he should have added a late second.

Mainz lacking creativity

Jean-Philippe Mateta did not have his finest outing, substituted after 74 minutes having not had a shot or created a single chance for Mainz. But he did not have much help, with the trio behind him - Robin Quaison Jean-Paul Boetius and Levin Oztunali – not producing a single key pass between them.

What's next? 

In-form Bayern host Hoffenheim in the DFB-Pokal on Wednesday, while Mainz are away to Hertha Berlin next Saturday.

Achim Beierlorzer has been named the new Mainz head coach just nine days after being sacked by Bundesliga rivals Cologne.

The 51-year-old has signed a contract until the end of the 2021-22 season, having been dismissed by Cologne in the wake of a four-game losing run that started with a 3-1 loss to Mainz last month.

Beierlorzer takes over from Sandro Schwarz, who departed after a 3-2 home defeat to Union Berlin that left Mainz in 16th place in the table.

"It's funny how football can work out; a week ago I was still at Cologne and now I'm head coach here at Mainz," Beierlorzer told his new club's website. "Things can happen quickly in this business, especially when you come to an agreement so easily.

"Mainz is a special club with a great history, which I really respect. It's a team with a very clear football philosophy and it's one I totally agree with - we want to play a fast game with lots of running and we want to play with a lot of passion. That's how we want to entertain our fans.

"I am looking forward to getting to know my team and the rest of the club and I am excited to become a part of the Mainz family."

Beierlorzer's first match in charge will be away to Hoffenheim - the team he faced in his final game with Cologne - on Sunday.

Could Jose Mourinho find a new home at a third Premier League club?

According to one report, the ex-Chelsea and Manchester United manager is keeping a close eye on Tottenham and the uncertainty that lingers over Mauricio Pochettino's future.

The potential of a job opening in north London might even lead to him turning down a big-name former employer.

 

TOP STORY – MOURINHO SETS SIGHTS ON SPURS

Jose Mourinho has told friends he is "confident" of being offered a return to Real Madrid but may hold out for the Tottenham job, according to The Sun.

Zinedine Zidane is in his second stint in charge of Madrid, while Mauricio Pochettino has spent more than five years at the Spurs helm.

The report suggests it is the latter position that Mourinho covets more, meaning he "would not necessarily accept" another spell in the Spanish capital.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United could launch a January move for Gareth Bale, reports The Sun. According to the newspaper, Real Madrid know of United's interest in Wales winger Bale and would be happy to let him leave the Santiago Bernabeu, providing they can do a deal that involves Paul Pogba moving in the other direction.

- Spanish outlet ElDesmarque reports news that could complicate any Bale-Pogba exchange, stating that although Madrid are indeed keen on France playmaker Pogba, so too are the player's former club Juventus, with Cristiano Ronaldo said to be supportive.

Paris Saint-Germain are rumoured to be United's strongest rivals for Jadon Sancho and the Ligue 1 side could make a surprise play for another England international. The Mirror claims PSG are interested in poaching Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana on a free transfer. His contract is due to expire in 2020.

- Premier League champions Manchester City will look to sign Kingsley Coman from Bayern Munich if Leroy Sane agrees on a move to the Bundesliga giants, according to Sky Sports. Coman, 23, joined Bayern from Juve in 2015, initially on loan.

- Mainz are seeking a new head coach and the Bundesliga club are reported to be targeting former Cologne boss Achim Beierlorzer. Kicker reports Mainz want a new face in charge by early next week, and Beierlorzer is said to be in the frame. The club sit in the relegation zone after eight defeats in 11 games this term. Beierlorzer would be making a rapid return to bench duty if he lands the job, having left Cologne on November 9.

RB Leipzig thrashed Mainz 8-0 and moved above Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga table as Germany international Timo Werner had a hand in six goals.

Julian Nagelsmann's team were 5-0 up at the interval after Marcel Sabitzer, Werner, Christopher Nkunku, Marcel Halstenberg and Yussuf Poulsen all found the net.

Werner scored again three minutes into the second half and then provided his third assist of the afternoon for Nordi Mukiele to make it 7-0 with 40 minutes still to play.

It was 8-0 when Werner swept home to complete his hat-trick three minutes from time and Leipzig's big win, coupled with Bayern's shock 5-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt, meant Nagelsmann's side moved above the champions and into third in the Bundesliga table, four points behind leaders Borussia Monchengladbach.

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