Julian Nagelsmann bemoaned Bayern Munich's underwhelming performance and suggested change is needed after the Bundesliga champions succumbed to defeat at Mainz.

Bayern secured a record 10th straight league title with Klassiker victory over Borussia Dortmund last weekend but were caught cold by Mainz after first-half strikes from Jonathan Burkardt and Moussa Niakhate.

Robert Lewandowski reduced the deficit with his 18th away league goal this season, setting a Bundesliga record for a single campaign, while taking his tally to 49 in all competitions – the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues.

Leandro Barreiro Martins restored the two-goal cushion after the interval for Bo Svensson's hosts as Mainz coasted to just a second league win over an uncharacteristically poor Bayern in their last 10 attempts.

Nagelsmann expressed frustration with his side after the defeat but acknowledged a downturn in performance was to be expected after the title win.

"We had too many performances and defeats of this kind this season," he told reporters.

"I have an explanation for it, but I won't give it to you. It's not for the media. I say it internally.

"After winning the 10th title in a row, it's a bit human but we still have to play for the badge on our chest.

"It seems like the passion isn't really there anymore. We reached a point where something needs to change. That's where we are right now."

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich fell to a 3-1 defeat at Mainz despite Robert Lewandowski setting another record.

Julian Nagelsmann's side sealed a record 10th straight league title by defeating Borussia Dortmund last time out, but were soon behind on Saturday after strikes from Jonathan Burkardt and Moussa Niakhate.

Robert Lewandowski halved the arrears with his 18th away league goal this season – a new Bundesliga benchmark for a single campaign – before Leandro Barreiro Martins restored Mainz's two-goal cushion after the interval.

Bayern were unable to respond as the champions suffered just a second defeat in their last 10 games against Mainz, who moved up to ninth with victory.

Burkardt cannoned against the crossbar and the post, while the unmarked Alexander Hack was denied by the woodwork but Mainz's early dominance soon paid dividends.

Sven Ulreich thwarted Karim Onisiwo from close range yet could not stop Burkardt when the striker powered a left-footed attempt home following Dominik Kohr's headed offload.

Niakhate doubled Mainz's advantage when he tapped in after Anton Stach's flick, before Lewandowski rolled into the bottom-right corner following Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting's pass to reduce the deficit.

Barreiro Martins almost restored the hosts' two-goal lead before the interval, only for his left-footed free-kick to curl narrowly wide.

But Barreiro Martins' luck was in after the break when his strike deflected in off Benjamin Pavard.

Burkardt dragged wide and Onisiwo smashed onto the crossbar from the edge of the area as Bayern, who repeatedly appeared frail on the counter-attack, were unable to mount a comeback.

What does it mean? Bayern caught cold on the road at Mainz again

Bayern had won eight of their last nine league meetings with Mainz, though the one blemish on their record came in this fixture last season when the hosts ran out 2-1 winners.

Mainz scored first on that occasion and followed suit in this game as they opened the scoring for four straight games against the Bavarian giants – no other current Bundesliga side have achieved this consecutively more than twice.

Super Stach shines

Stach was a constant presence in the middle of the park for Bo Svensson's team, setting up Niakhate's goal – one of a game-leading seven key passes the midfielder supplied for Mainz.

Legendary Lewandowski

Despite speculation of a move away from Bayern with just over a year left on his contract, Lewandowski continues to deliver. His tally in all competitions this season now stands at 49.

No player has managed more goals in Europe's top five leagues, while the Poland international also put his name to yet another Bundesliga record.

What's next?

Bayern host Stuttgart on May 8, while Mainz make the trip to Hertha Berlin the day before.

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann reiterated his desire for Robert Lewandowski to stay at the club amid ongoing speculation over his future.

Lewandowski has scored 33 goals in the Bundesliga this season, 12 more than nearest rival Patrick Schick, to fire Bayern to a record-setting 10th straight league title with three games to spare.

The Poland international has found the net once every 81 minutes in the top flight this campaign, while no player has managed more than his 48 goals across all competitions in Europe's top five leagues.

However, questions persist as to the future of Lewandowski, who is entering the final year of his contract at the Allianz Arena with Barcelona reportedly preparing to swoop for the 33-year-old.

Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic insists the talisman will not be sold to avoid losing him on a free transfer, but Lewandowski suggested no new contract talks have been opened by the club.

Nagelsmann, speaking ahead of Saturday's visit to Mainz, reaffirmed his stance on wanting to keep his star striker at Bayern for as long as possible.

"It's always good when you have planning security in all areas of life. I've said it at least 50 times that of course I wish he would stay, nothing has changed this week. That's my point of view," he told reporters.

Salihamidzic has already rebuffed talk of signing Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, who will reportedly be available for a €75million release clause at the end of the season, as a replacement for Lewandowski.

Nagelsmann echoed Salihamidzic's sentiment as he ruled out moving for Haaland, who has scored 82 goals and supplied 19 assists in 86 appearances in all competitions since his Dortmund debut in January 2020.

Pressed on comparisons between the two strikers, the Bayern coach responded: "These are two different types of players that you can't compare. It's like apples and oranges."

 

Lewandowski is likely to feature at Mainz, fitness permitting, but Nagelsmann confirmed he will be without Thomas Muller, who has 17 top-flight assists this term – the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues.

"Muller is ill and will not travel this weekend. We will try to give some players the opportunity to start," he continued.

"[Eric Maxim] Choupo-Moting will definitely be in the starting line-up, that much I can say for sure. 

"The virtue of a winning mentality is noticeable in the lads even after the championship in training. My everyday life is a little more relaxed than in the middle of the season."

Bayern would surpass the Bundesliga record for most away goals in a season (47, a record set by Bayern in the 2019-20 season) with two strikes at Mainz, but Nagelsmann appeared uninterested by that feat.

"You always have to be a bit careful when it comes to respect for the opponent," he added on the possible record. 

"Of course we always want to score a lot of goals, that's what makes football so appealing. It won't be easy, but we're trying hard to find goals and play a good game offensively."

Julian Nagelsmann felt Bayern Munich made life difficult for themselves after the reigning Bundesliga champions defeated Mainz on Saturday.

Bayern fell behind to Karim Onisiwo's first-half strike before Kingsley Coman levelled things up at the Allianz Arena.

Jamal Musiala then delivered the decisive strike to help Nagelsmann to his 100th win as a manager in the Bundesliga.

At just 34 years and 141 days old, Nagelsmann is the youngest coach in the history of the German top flight to reach the 100-win milestone, with his first and his 100th victories both coming against Mainz.

But the former RB Leipzig head coach was disappointed with Bayern's first-half performance as he felt his side caused their own problems, though he was satisfied with their response in the next 45 minutes.

"The win was tough because Mainz are doing very well this season," Nagelsmann told reporters. "But we rather made it difficult for ourselves. We started well, I had a great feeling – suddenly the momentum was gone and we played very slowly.

"In the second half we were really sharp and put in a lot of power and intensity from the first to the 88th minute. That was a very good reaction by the team."

Nagelsmann also reserved special praise for Jamal Musiala, who operated in a deeper midfield role in the absence of Joshua Kimmich.

Musiala scored from his one effort on target and also attempted 10 dribbles, a tally only bettered by team-mate Kingsley Coman (12).

"He's left his 'Bambi' status," Nagelsmann added on the versatile Musiala. "At some point you grow out of your talent status. 

"He should keep this street football gene, but he doesn't have to become Gennaro Gattuso. Defensively, it's all about being reliable."

Leaders Bayern move six points clear after Borussia Dortmund were held to a 1-1 draw by Bochum, while Nagelsmann's side next travel to Stuttgart on Tuesday.

Julian Nagelsmann won his 100th Bundesliga game as Jamal Musiala's strike completed a 2-1 comeback victory over Mainz.

Perhaps suffering a hangover from their Champions League win over Barcelona, Bayern – without a number of key players – were far from their slick best on Saturday.

But the champions ultimately had too much quality, with Musiala, playing in an unfamiliar central midfield role, slotting in a 74th-minute winner.

Kingsley Coman had equalised to cancel out Karim Onisiwo's header, with Mainz unable to withstand the pressure as Nagelsmann moved onto a century of league wins in his 199th top-flight game as a coach.

More often a provider, Alphonso Davies had two chances to put Bayern ahead inside 10 minutes, but he failed to put a close-range volley on target before a deflected effort hit the post.

Yet Bayern's ominous start failed to produce a goal. Indeed, Mainz were unfortunate not to have a penalty when Dayot Upamecano barged into Jae-Sung Lee.

Bayern avoided punishment, but Mainz kept up the pressure and had the lead in the 22nd minute – Onisiwo heading in from Jonathan Burkardt's cross.

Thomas Muller saw an acrobatic attempt deflected over before Alexander Hack kept Coman at bay. It was the latter who got Bayern level in the 53rd minute.

Corentin Tolisso's well weighted pass caught Mainz napping, with Coman's excellent touch setting him up for a strike that squirmed under Robert Zentner.

Coman latched onto another fantastic pass from deep soon after, this time cutting in from the left before drilling an effort just over.

Bayern's winner came with 17 minutes remaining, though, with teenager Musiala taking a sublime touch to create space on the edge of the box before finding the bottom-left corner with unerring accuracy.

Robert Lewandowski has continued with business as usual despite disappointment at the 2021 Ballon d'Or awards, according to Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann.

Lewandowski had to settle for second place and an inaugural Striker of the Year accolade at the France Football award ceremony, with Lionel Messi collecting a record-extending seventh crown.

The Bayern striker may have felt hard done by, given he has scored 14 more times than any other player in Europe's top five leagues in 2021, with 55 goals across all competitions to his name so far.

The Poland international also missed out last year due to the coronavirus-enforced cancellation of the 2020 Ballon d'Or, which he was favourite for after breaking Gerd Muller's long-standing Bundesliga record following 41 goals in 29 league games last term.

But Nagelsmann insisted that Lewandowski – who again leads Europe's top five leagues with 27 goals this term across all competitions, seven more than second-placed Mohamed Salah – has not let the Ballon d'Or snub impact his performances.

"I haven't noticed a big change in terms of hunger for goals, regardless of the Ballon d'Or decision or new records," Nagelsmann, whose side face Mainz on Saturday, told reporters at his pre-match news conference.

"I think he was in an incredibly good mood lately with very good body language. He also does his job defensively very neatly. I think he just wants to be successful with FC Bayern."

 

Bayern, inspired by the likes of Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry, sit four points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga as the reigning champions prepare to host Mainz.

Nagelsmann is also eyeing a landmark of his own, with a potential 100th Bundesliga win awaiting him in just his 199th game as a top-flight boss.

Should he do so, he will become the fastest to a century in the German top flight but the former RB Leipzig head coach claimed he did not even know he was approaching a milestone as he praised his team's recent efforts.

"Thanks for the memory, I didn't even know that," he added. "That's a nice number, I'm happy.

"The players are in a good mood, I think. The atmosphere is also good on the pitch and in the dressing room. 

"I think we have mastered the difficult autumn quite well so far, even with the many injuries and failures. We want to win the rest of the games and keep the gap to Dortmund in the league. We will drive ahead with full speed."

Nagelsmann, however, will be without Joshua Kimmich, who will miss the remainder of 2021 with a lung problem as he continues to recover from coronavirus.

But the Bayern head coach defended his player, who is yet to be vaccinated for COVID-19, after suggestions Kimmich was causing problems.

"Basically, it's always good if you ask him that yourself," he continued. "Of course, as a thoroughbred athlete, he always wants to be on the pitch, especially because he's always been fit. 

"You have to allow opinions here in Germany. He has made his decision, you have to accept it."

Mainz were hit with an €8,000 beer bill on Tuesday after their fans showered Union Berlin forward Max Kruse during a recent Bundesliga game.

Former Germany international Kruse was targeted after he was substituted in the 83rd minute of Union's 2-1 win at Mainz in early October.

He had beer cups thrown over him as he walked behind the goal on his way off the pitch, resulting in a soaking for the 33-year-old.

Kruse kept his cool and said in a post-match interview with DAZN: "Why should something like that provoke me? What should I say to such nonsense heads?"

Mainz were charged over the behaviour of their fans and German Football Association (DFB) chiefs have now passed judgement.

"The sports court of the DFB fined the Bundesliga club Mainz 8,000 euros in single judge proceedings after the DFB control committee brought charges for unsportsmanlike conduct on the part of its supporters," the DFB said in a statement.

"In the 83rd minute of the Bundesliga game against Union Berlin on October 3, 2021, the Berlin player Max Kruse was showered with beer by spectators from Mainz after his substitution. The association has agreed to the ruling, the ruling is now final."

Hansi Flick admitted his Bayern Munich team were tired and ripe to be punished after a 2-1 defeat at Mainz delayed title celebrations.

Chasing the win that would have clinched a ninth successive Bundesliga title, Bayern gave a lethargic display and a last-gasp goal from Robert Lewandowski was as much as they deserved.

Mainz seized advantage as the one-time strugglers took their points tally to 28 from 16 games under new head coach Bo Svensson, soaring five points clear of the relegation zone.

Bayern boss Flick said: "We all know that just as the team has often shown its quality, something like that can happen. It's a shame we couldn't take the step today.

"But you have to understand that the team is tired. We were too harmless.

"We want to win every game, that was also the case today. We didn't perform well, you have to accept that.

"The team have many minutes in their legs. We just weren't strong enough."

First-half goals from Jonathan Burkardt and Robin Quaison put Bayern in a tangle, and the stoppage-time reply from Lewandowski, returning from injury, came too late to spark anything more.

Lewandowski now has 36 goals for the season, meaning he trails Gerd Muller's Bundesliga record by four with three rounds of games remaining.

His goal in Saturday's game was a gift rather than the result of any great personal endeavour, with a poor defensive header leaving Lewandowski the task of stroking the ball past cruelly exposed goalkeeper Robin Zentner.

Bayern slipped to a first Bundesliga defeat at Mainz since 2011, having won all eight of their away games against the 05ers since that 3-2 loss a decade ago.

Manuel Neuer was unusually at fault for the third-minute opening goal, getting in the way of the powerful shot from Burkardt but only being able to divert it into the corner of his net.

"I wasn't blinded by the sun," said Neuer, according to TZ.

"The ball was close to [David] Alaba, I couldn't see it well. I tried to put my arm up, I was unlucky."

Bayern have been hit by a Champions League quarter-final exit, the announcement from Flick that he wants to be released from his contract at the end of the season, and criticism from fans aimed at Hasan Salihamidzic.

That may have been a contributing factor to Saturday's below-par effort, but Neuer pointed to Mainz's qualities.

"We weren't surprised," said the goalkeeper. "It was clear that they went into the game with a high level of motivation. Our body language was bad."

Bayern could still be crowned champions this weekend, but RB Leipzig would need to lose to Stuttgart on Sunday.

"I would have preferred to have got it done ourselves," said Neuer. "The defeat hits us hard after the last few weeks."

Bayern Munich came looking for a title party and were served with a cold dose of reality as survival scrappers Mainz earned a stunning 2-1 win over the Bundesliga leaders.

First-half goals from Jonathan Burkardt and Robin Quaison put in-form Mainz in charge, and a leggy Bayern side - who would have been crowned champions with a victory - lacked the zip in their game to overturn that deficit.

Manuel Neuer was at fault for the opener, but also produced some big saves to keep Bayern in touch with their impressive hosts, who have been the most-improved team in the league in the second half of the season.

When Quaison headed the second, he showed the aerial threat that was rarely seen from Bayern's fit-again talisman Robert Lewandowski in this game. Lewandowski snatched a last-gasp consolation after a defensive clanger, but it came too late to be significant.

Burkardt stunned Bayern in the third minute when he was left unattended on the edge of the penalty area and fired a thumping shot that Neuer could only help into the left corner.

Bayern had Lewandowski back in their ranks after a knee injury absence, but before the Polish striker could show any threat they were almost two goals behind, Neuer producing a fine save at full stretch to touch a 20-yard header from Danny Latza against the left post.

Lewandowski fired waywardly from his first chance before Neuer again prevented Bayern slipping two goals behind, Quaison turning Jerome Boateng far too easily and hitting the target with a thumping shot that bounced away off the well-placed goalkeeper.

Bo Svensson's Mainz side, having won four and drawn two of their previous six games to surge out of the relegation zone, doubled their lead in the 37th minute when Quaison headed past Neuer after Philipp Mwene's free-kick from the left proved a perfect, teasing delivery.

Hansi Flick's reaction was to bring on three substitutes at the start of the second half, hauling off Leon Goretzka, who was perhaps fortunate to avoid a first-half red card, plus Kingsley Coman and Leroy Sane, and introducing Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Jamal Musiala and Tanguy Nianzou.

A stray arm from Lewandowski caught Mainz midfielder Leandro Barreiro in the face, drawing blood, but it appeared accidental. It was nevertheless not the impact Bayern were looking for from their star striker.

Bayern trailed 2-0 in the first meeting of these sides this season but recovered to win 5-2; however, until Lewandowski's stoppage-time strike, their second-half goal threat in this game was limited to half-chances that the likes of Choupo-Moting and Joshua Kimmich could not convert.

Bayern Munich will try to help Robert Lewandowski make Bundesliga history but securing the title is the top priority, says Hansi Flick.

Lewandowski returned to full training this week after suffering knee ligament damage while away on international duty with Poland last month.

The striker missed both legs of Bayern's Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain as the defending champions were knocked out on away goals, while an extended absence hampered his chances of surpassing Gerd Muller's record tally of 40 league goals, achieved back in the 1971-72 season.

Sitting on 35 with just four games remaining, the 32-year-old is set to make his comeback when Flick's table-topping side visit Mainz on Saturday.

A win on the road will secure a ninth successive league crown and while Lewandowski is also so close to achieving personal glory, the team still comes first for Flick.

"I think we all agree that's his major goal," the Bayern boss told a news conference on Friday.

"He's going to be part of the squad, Leon Goretzka is going to be part of the squad, Serge Gnabry is probably going to be part of the squad. The squad is slowly but surely filling up again – we are returning to normal, which is good of course.

"It's important for us to win the championship - we want to do that as quickly as possible."

On Lewandowski's impending return, he added: "Don't forget that he was out for four weeks.

"He's in very good shape, he showed that in training, but we have to wait and see how he handles the training sessions and the comeback attempt, how his body reacts.

"Of course we will all try to support him, but first of all our focus and priority is the success of the team and the club."

Lewandowski was badly missed as Bayern scored just three goals from 45 shots and eight 'big chances' against PSG. In the 3-2 home defeat in the first leg, the German club's tally of 31 attempts were worth 3.8 expected goals (xG).

Out of Europe, the Bundesliga is the solitary focus for Flick and his squad - but the outgoing head coach expects in-form Mainz to make it difficult to get over the line.

"It's definitely a very deserved championship," he said. "We hope we can win it in Mainz, but we know that they are in really good shape, unbeaten in six games – four wins and two draws – and against some teams who are at the top as well.

"They are a team who are aggressive in defence and very compact. When they win possession, they transition very quickly. These are the things we have to be wary of."

Bayern fought back to record a 5-2 win against Mainz in the reverse fixture, making it the first time since 1988 - and just the fourth occasion overall - that the Bavarians had come back to triumph after being at least two goals down at half-time in the league.

Hertha Berlin have requested three matches be postponed due to being forced into 14-day quarantine as a result of COVID-19 cases within the Bundesliga club.

Hertha have asked to delay scheduled fixtures against Mainz (April 18), Frieburg (April 21) and Schalke (April 24) after left-back Marvin Plattenhardt tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday. 

Head coach Pal Dardai, assistant coach Admir Hamzagic and striker Dodi Lukebakio had positive tests earlier in the day, prompting the German club to implement the two-week quarantine. 

Hertha initially had planned to play their matches during that period but the additional positive test to Plattenhardt prompted the plea to push them back.

"Due to the cases that have occurred, we are now forced to a 14-day quarantine at home," said sporting director Arne Friedrich, who took charge of training on Thursday with Dardai out.

"From a health point of view, this is absolutely the right step. because we now have to play six Bundesliga games by the end of the season on May 22, 2021 in the fight to stay relegated in May. 

"During the quarantine at home, the team will keep fit with virtual training units under the guidance of the coaching team. 

"We accept the situation despite the difficult circumstances and will throw everything in our power for a successful season finale into the balance."

There was no immediate response from the German Football League (DFL), which had announced new dates for several 2.Bundesliga matches that had been postponed due to coronavirus cases. 

Hertha sit just outside the relegation play-off place on goal difference ahead of fellow strugglers Arminia Bielefeld, while the capital club are three points clear of the automatic relegation positions with six games remaining.

 

Stefan de Vrij's positive coronavirus test has ruled him out of the latest Netherlands squad, with Mainz centre-back Jeremiah St Juste included for the first time in his place.

Dutch coach Frank de Boer named a final 24-man squad on Friday, picking from an initial 31-man group selected earlier this month.

Inter defender De Vrij was among those to make way, having contracted COVID-19, prompting a lockdown of the Nerazzurri camp.

Their international players have been banned from joining their national teams, although Belgium still called up Romelu Lukaku while De Boer suggested a delayed arrival was possible for De Vrij.

But that complication has created an opportunity for St Juste, a former youth international.

"For Stefan de Vrij, it is of course annoying that he tested positive for corona," De Boer said. "That's why we can't summon him.

"We need to see how that develops and whether Stefan can possibly join later. We'll really have to wait and see.

"With Jeremiah St Juste, who can play at right-back and right-centre, I now have a good replacement. It's nice for him to be able to make his debut in the squad."

Although St Juste's passing accuracy of 79.6 per cent pales next to De Vrij's (93.5 per cent), he has had far more practice in a defensive sense this season at Bundesliga strugglers Mainz.

The 24-year-old contests more duels (9.8, winning 58 per cent), aerial duels (3.9) and tackles (1.9) per 90 minutes than De Vrij, while also contributing more interceptions (2.1) and blocks (0.9).

Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, last in a Netherlands squad in October 2017, has also been handed a chance.

Wout Weghorst misses out, his 26 goal involvements in 32 Wolfsburg games not enough, as does Quincy Promes, who was arrested in December in connection to a stabbing earlier last year. The player denied his alleged involvement.

"We are now close to the European Championships," De Boer said. "That means that all players from the provisional squad remain in our picture, even if they are not in the final group now.

"This applies, for example, to Quincy Promes, who I have not selected now. The competition in his position is great and I choose others at the moment.

"Of course I know the stories around him, but for me only one thing applies: you are innocent in the Netherlands until proven guilty. So I treat him just like everyone else."

Netherlands squad in full:

Jasper Cillessen (Valencia), Tim Krul (Norwich City), Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax); Daley Blind (Ajax), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Denzel Dumfries (PSV), Jeremiah St Juste (Mainz), Kenny Tete (Fulham), Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace), Joel Veltman (Brighton and Hove Albion), Owen Wijndal (AZ); Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Marten de Roon (Atalanta), Donny van de Beek (Manchester United), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool); Ryan Babel (Galatasaray), Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord), Steven Bergwijn (Tottenham), Calvin Stengs (AZ), Memphis Depay (Lyon), Luuk de Jong (Sevilla), Donyell Malen (PSV).

"Of course we have a certain history…but we don't know each other as well as everybody thinks."

So said Thomas Tuchel during a glowing assessment of his German compatriot Jurgen Klopp, not long after replacing club legend Frank Lampard in the Chelsea dugout in January.

You could be forgiven, though, for thinking there is a much stronger bond between two men from the same country, whose paths from young heavy-metal upstarts to coaching heavyweights have taken eerily similar paths.

There are striking facets in each man's style of play too. The high intensity pressing, the devastating speed of the counter-attack, the fluidity of the forwards.

Now, whether you are a believer in fate or coincidence, the two are set to battle in the Premier League for the first time on Thursday when Chelsea – unbeaten so far under Tuchel – visit Anfield to take on Klopp's Liverpool.

With that in mind, let's take a trip down memory lane.

BECOMING THE MAINZ MAN

"I had fourth-division feet and a first-division head".

Even as a player, Klopp always believed his talents were better suited to the touchline than inside the white lines and it was at second-tier Mainz – where he made over 300 league appearances as a player – where he would get the chance to cut his coaching teeth.

Appointed in February 2001, Klopp helped stave off the threat of relegation and then led the team to consecutive fourth-place finishes, narrowly missing out on promotion.

But the old adage proved true, as the third time proved a charm for Klopp as Mainz were promoted to the Bundesliga for the first time in their history.

Klopp had the smallest budget and the smallest stadium in the top flight, but in his first two campaigns among the elite, employing his now famed Gegenpress, he led Mainz to back-to-back 11th-place finishes and a first foray into European football – qualifying for the UEFA Cup thanks to the Fair Play draw.

Relegation followed in the next campaign, and in total Klopp enjoyed 29 wins from 102 Bundesliga games as Mainz boss, a win percentage of 28.43 in Germany's top flight – his side scoring 130 goals and conceding 159.

He had a points-per-game average of 1.13 with Mainz in the Bundesliga but, after failing to secure a return to the top tier the following campaign, Klopp departed for pastures new. More on that later.

So, what next for Mainz? Well, the original route was the appointment of Jorn Andersen, who successfully achieved promotion but was sacked before the 2009-10 top-flight campaign even started, with Mainz stating the aims of the club and the coach were no longer the same.

Enter Tuchel…

A knee injury curtailed Tuchel's playing career at the age of 25 and he worked in the youth team at Stuttgart before overseeing the second team at Augsburg – a club he previously played for.

It was here where Tuchel impressed Bundesliga teams, coaching a side including Julian Nagelsmann, and Mainz came calling after dismissing Andersen.

Despite limited funds and a supposedly inferior playing squad, a team including Andre Schurrle and Adam Szalai helped Mainz to a ninth-placed finish.

Better things were to come the following season. The likes of Lewis Holtby and future Premier League winner Christian Fuchs arrived and Tuchel led Mainz to their highest ever finish of fifth.

The difficulties of mixing domestic and European football were a struggle and the next two campaigns saw Mainz finish 13th before coming an impressive seventh in 2013-14, Tuchel's last season in charge.

By the end of his tenure, Tuchel had a win percentage of 38.24 in the Bundesliga – significantly higher than Klopp's and the best of any Mainz coach.

Under Tuchel, Mainz won 65 Bundesliga games, scored 229 goals, conceded 230 and finished with a points-per-game ratio of 1.41. After a year out of the game, another opportunity was to arise…

DELIGHTING IN DORTMUND

When Klopp arrived at Borussia Dortmund in 2008, both parties could hardly have dreamed they would be a better match.

Earlier in the decade, Dortmund were a club on the brink of financial ruin after years of heavy spending.

It meant Klopp's remit was to work within a limited budget and develop youth talent. And boy did he succeed in his task – putting together a team that would mix it with the best of European football.

The early signs were promising as Dortmund finished sixth and fifth in Klopp's first two campaigns, an improvement on 13th in the season prior to him taking over.

But it was 2010-11 when things really clicked. A star-studded cast led by Robert Lewandowski, Mario Gotze, Mats Hummels and Shinji Kagawa pressed, hassled and swashbuckled their way to Bundesliga glory.

Dortmund would repeat the trick a year later with their 81 points at the time a Bundesliga record, while they made it a domestic double in the process by adding the DFB-Pokal.

Bayern Munich regained top spot in the Bundesliga in the following season (and have not looked back since) but Klopp's reputation continued to grow as Dortmund reached the Champions League final – only to be denied as Arjen Robben's 89th-minute winner earned Bayern a famous treble.

Dortmund were runners-up in the league and cup in 2013-14, and a disappointing start to the next term that saw Dortmund initially in relegation trouble would mark the beginning of the end of a glorious chapter.

Still, a recovery to seventh in the table and a run to the Pokal final meant Klopp left with his head held high. In total, Dortmund won 133 of their 238 Bundesliga matches under Klopp – ending with a win percentage of 55.88 and an average of 1.91 points per game, with 469 goals scored and 248 conceded.

But life at Signal Iduna Park had to go on and, you guessed it… enter Tuchel.

It was a natural fit in many ways, with Dortmund keen to find someone who would fit a similar mould to Klopp when he first joined. Young, vibrant, a desire to press and attack at pace.

There was much to admire in Tuchel's first campaign, but Bayern's winning machine continued as they finished 10 points clear of their rivals.

Dortmund spent big to replenish a squad depleted by the departures of Hummels, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ilkay Gundogan ahead of the 2016-17 season, but they accumulated 14 fewer points to finish third in the league – a triumph in the Pokal proving Tuchel's only trophy at the club.

While there was plenty to admire on the pitch, off it Tuchel's reign was mired by disagreements with Dortmund's hierarchy – most notably CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke.

Tuchel left with a win percentage in the Bundesliga of 61.76 (beaten only by Lucien Favre's 63.29 among Dortmund coaches with at least 10 games in charge), accruing an impressive 2.09 points per game.

HEAD-TO-HEAD AND 'THAT' GAME AT ANFIELD

Similar paths, similarities in styles, contrasting fortunes then.

But Thursday's clash at Anfield is by no means the first time these two have gone head to head.

Indeed, there were 10 occasions when the two were in opposition dugouts in the Bundesliga – with Klopp winning seven of those and Tuchel only one.

When extending that to all competitions, Klopp has triumphed nine times from 14 games, while Tuchel bumps up only slightly to two victories.

Their most famous showdown, of course, came in the 2015-16 Europa League quarter-finals, where Klopp was handed a romantic return to the club he once considered his home.

A 1-1 draw in Dortmund preceded one of the greatest second-leg contests in the competition's history.

Goals from Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had Dortmund 2-0 up inside 10 minutes to stun Anfield and, although Divock Origi's goal just after the break reduced the arrears, Marco Reus' effort before the hour had seemingly sewn things up.

Cue pandemonium. Philippe Coutinho and Mamadou Sakho were on target to level things on the night and Dejan Lovren's injury-time header completed the most memorable and emotional of comebacks, Liverpool celebrating a 4-3 victory.

Since that night, Klopp has become a Premier League and Champions League winner with the Reds, while Tuchel's arrival at Stamford Bridge was preceded by a couple of Ligue 1 title triumphs with Paris Saint-Germain and a 1-0 loss to Bayern in last season's showpiece game in Europe's premier competition.

Klopp and Tuchel also had a win apiece when Liverpool and PSG met in the 2018-19 Champions League group stages.

Now their familiar paths have led to the Premier League for the latest showdown between two of the greatest coaching minds in football.

Bayern Munich came from behind for an eighth successive Bundesliga match as the champions overcame struggling Mainz 5-2 at Allianz Arena.

Hansi Flick's side have not taken the lead in a league game since October and might have been staring down the barrel of a second defeat of the season had Danny Latza beaten Manuel Neuer early in the second half.

Mainz had a 2-0 lead at that stage, with Jonathan Burkardt and Alexander Hack scoring in the first half, but Joshua Kimmich and Leroy Sane restored parity in the space of five minutes.

Robin Quaison struck the woodwork as 17th-placed Mainz fought back, though Bayern ultimately had too much.

Niklas Sule's deflected strike and Robert Lewandowski's double – the first of which came from the spot – settling a thrilling contest firmly in Bayern's favour.

 

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