The Bundesliga has become something of a procession in the four seasons since Borussia Dortmund’s last title triumph, with Bayern Munich cantering to victory.
But their title dominance could come to a grinding halt this season, with 500/1 outsiders 1. FSV Mainz 05 having all the attributes to overcome the current champions.
We’re not quite sure why their odds are so huge, but while they remain that way, here’s why you should back them to triumph…
They can beat Bayern
Martin Schmidt’s men have already proved they can beat the Bundesliga giants.By contrast, one of the main things to hamper Dortmund title hopes in the past three years has been a dire head-to-head record against Bayern, with just one point in their last five games.
That’s quite a contrast with Mainz, who were the only side to beat Bayern at the Allianz Arena in the league last season – and only a brief second-half slump saw Die Nullfunter denied a point in the reverse fixture.
Eye-catching pre-season displays
While it was Pep Guardiola left red-faced as Mainz turned over Die Roten on the road in February, it was another current Premier League manager – Jurgen Klopp – who saw his side blown away by Schmidt’s charges in the lead-up to this season.
Liverpool may have lined up with a strong side containing Emre Can, Divock Origi, and Adam Lallana, but the English giants were on the receiving end of a 4-0 demolition.
It was a result which shocked many on these shores, but with Mainz having already dispatched of domestic foes 5-0 and 7-0 ahead of the new Bundesliga season, their imperious form is becoming something of a given for fans in Germany.
Stellar summer recruits
While 6/1 second-favourites Borussia Dortmund have been left ravaged by the loss of four key midfielders, and Bayern have seen several first-team regulars exit, it’s been the entrances at OPEL Arena which have been catching the eye.
Mainz have snapped up beefy Colombian forward Jhon Cordoba from Granada, highly-rated Danish international keeper Jonas Lossl and lightning-quick winger Gerrit Holtmann from Eintracht Braunschweig – among other useful squad additions.
The only high-profile exit has been Lorik Karius’ departure to Liverpool, but the departing keeper has been replaced by a man who can match his quality in Lossl.
They don’t rely on one individual
While most sides who finished in the European spots last season relied too much on individual players, Mainz secured an impressive sixth-placed berth based on the quality and understanding of the team. Much like Leicester City, in fact.
Without Robert Lewandowski or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, last season’s top two would have lacked a combined 55 goals. So if either man gets an injury or suffers a slump in form, their sides are sure to take a big hit. But Mainz don’t work like that.
Five different players netted five or more times for them in the league last season – all of whom have remained at the club for this campaign. And they’re even better at the other end of the pitch, with the 42 goals they conceded the equal lowest outside of the top two.
Can they end Bayern’s winning streak? It’s a huge ask, but at 500/1 they’re an incredible price to produce an unlikely – though very plausible – title challenge.
Mainz begin the season with a trip to Dortmund, where they’re 7/1 for a first win in four visits to the Westfalenstadion.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing