On Matchday 5, FSV Mainz 05 undertake one of their two back-to-back home games: the Zerofivers head into Mönchengladbach’s Borussia Park in search of three points. Around 800 Mainz fans will accompany Bo Svensson’s side to Gladbach. If they are to bring back any points to Mainz, team must bring their A-game against their still undefeated opponents, who are enjoying life under new head coach Daniel Farke. In his press conference on Friday, the Mainz head coach spoke of a “clear DNA” within Gladbach’s game and whose squad is also filled with “very good individual players.” However, the Dane is certain that his team will have phases of possession in Borussia Park which they must take more advantage of than they did last time out against Leverkusen.
Positive reaction in training
Svensson is satisfied with the positive focus and work ethic in training this week, but he doesn’t necessarily see it as a reaction to the 3-0 loss to Leverkusen, since they had trained well in the week leading up to that game as well. The team has reviewed the home defeat in the last few days, and the aspects, which Svensson considered to be crucial, have been addressed. “The boys have done well, but, from experience of last week, I know that in the end it’s the game that counts,” explained the head coach, who considers it his task to prepare the team for every possible match scenario, so that the right solutions can be found for opponents who play unexpectedly in the future.
Of course, it should not happen too often that the opponent’s approach differs so blatantly from the expected style, but Leverkusen’s defensive game plan could have been tied to the unique situation of Gerardo Seoane’s side – Leverkusen had zero points and sat 17th in the table ahead of their clash with the Zerofivers, explained Svensson. “Nevertheless, we have to learn to deal with such phases more constructively because, in the course of a match, it is always possible for the game to change and unexpected situations to arise.”
Gladbach’s possession-based football
In preparation for the Gladbach clash, Mainz’s analysis has been focused on their opponent’s first three games, in which they picked up a total of seven points against Hoffenheim, Schalke and Hertha BSC. “Gladbach have played slightly differently compared to last season. They have a clear emphasis on possession-based football with good positional play. They have lots of good players and want to control the game across every phase, both with and without the ball. Especially with the ball, they make it difficult for their opponents. They are a team that have a clear DNA, which also fits with the very high quality of their individual players,” said Svensson of the up-coming opposition. The main takeaway from Gladbach’s point last week against Bayern was that they have “a pretty good goalkeeper in Yann Sommer,” – Svensson explained with a wink, but Mainz were already aware of this given their own experiences with Sommer last season.
Bringing our strengths onto the pitch
Gladbach know how to play to their own strengths, but Mainz also do, according to Svensson. “We got results from our football for about 18 months now and I have always seen our identity coming out on the pitch, but that was missing against Leverkusen. It’s all about how we are going to impose our style of play on the game, how we can apply the Mainz virtues, especially when our opponents provide a different sort of challenge than we are used to, just like Leverkusen did. We will have to show that, perhaps at Gladbach, but definitely at some point later in the season.”
“I haven’t lost any sleep over the Leverkusen game”
In this endeavour, he has great confidence in his players and knows that mistakes can happen. “Maxim Leitsch and Alex Hack had a tough time of it last time out, but that can happen in the Bundesliga. When you go up against top teams like Leverkusen, it’s even likelier to happen. In the three games before that, we did very well defensively as a unit, allowing very few chances and conceding only twice. I haven’t lost any sleep over the Leverkusen game. I’m convinced by and believe in the quality of the boys,” explained the head coach, praising, at the same time, the competition for places amongst his squad. Danny da Costa is “absolutely a candidate for the matchday squad,” even if he is lacking a bit of rhythm to be part of the starting eleven. Also Niklas Tauer, Edimilson Fernandes and Anthony Caci have also imposed themselves in training, impressing Svensson and providing him with options at the back.
For Sunday’s match, the Mainz coach can draw on almost all of his resources, only having to go without Marcus Ingvartsen, who is said to be on the right track following his knee ligament injury. He may be able to rejoin team training as early as next week.