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The mood in the camp was euphoric after the Black & Yellows beat Slavia Prague to book their place in the UEFA Champions League last 16. But Lucien Favre, Michael Zorc and Co. have already turned their attentions to their final three Bundesliga matches before the winter break. First up for BVB is a trip to 1. FSV Mainz on Saturday (15:30 CET).
Speaking at the press conference on Thursday, coach Lucien Favre and sporting director Michael Zorc agreed that progressing to the knockout rounds of Europe's elite club competition had been a source of huge relief to everyone involved. "We greatly enjoyed the aftermath of the Slavia game," said Favre. "But now we're fully and entirely focused on the Bundesliga and our next difficult match in Mainz." Zorc agreed and emphasised that the Bundesliga continues to be "our main focus". Of the three remaining matches before Christmas – Mainz away, Leipzig at home and Hoffenheim away – Zorc said: "First of all, we want to get three points in Mainz. I'd be absolutely delighted with that."
The 05ers made a below-par start to the campaign but have seen their results improve in recent weeks – thanks in part to new coach Achim Beierlorzer, who recently replaced Sandro Schwarz. The former 1. FC Cologne boss won his first two matches in charge before an unlucky 2-1 defeat in Augsburg. "They might have lost in Augsburg, but they showed with only 10 men in their 5-1 win over Hoffenheim that they're very dangerous," said Favre of the Rhinelanders.
Mats Hummels, who featured in the UEFA Champions League in midweek, will be available for domestic duties again after serving the one-match suspension he was handed for his red card in Berlin. But rotation remains likely given the hectic Bundesliga schedule in the final week before the winter break. One possibility is that Leonardo Balerdi, who made his Bundesliga and Champions League debuts in the space of four days, could get further minutes under his belt. Speaking about the young Argentinian on Thursday, Favre said: "He understandably needed time but he's slowly getting there. He's doing better and better." The match at Mainz will be another chance for Balerdi to showcase his abilities.