“We’ve trained really well this week and I could feel a great energy,” said Bo Svensson at his pre-match presser on Thursday, ahead of the Zerofivers’ meeting with Hertha BSC on Saturday evening (18:30 CEST), Mainz’s penultimate match of 2021/22. Following their brilliant performance and victory at home to FC Bayern München last weekend, it’s now a case of bringing a similar performance level to this weekend’s match in the capital. Our upcoming opponents need points to keep up their survival fight and have done that well in recent weeks, picking up ten points from their previous six matches. “That’s a decent recent recordy,” warned the Zerofivers head coach.
The Dane was quick to contest the theory that his side, who have picked up 42 points from 32 matches this season, putting them comfortably in mid-table in the league, are now playing for next to nothing when they travel to the capital. Svensson doesn’t believe in such an approach to a football match. “My ambition and goals as a head coach for this game have remained the same.” He emphasised that for his side, it’s about finishing the season in the best position possible and “delivering two more really good performances”. Following this weekend’s fixture in Berlin, the Zerofivers will end the season with the Rhine-Main derby against Eintracht Frankfurt in the MEWA ARENA on 14th May.
My ambition and goals as a head coach for this game have remained the same.
Svensson’s not just keeping an eye on the final six points up for grabs in this campaign, however – he’s also got a long-term view in regards to the upcoming season and hasn’t forgotten about the fact that his side has picked up just eight points from sixteen away matches this season. “Of course I’ve got our away form in mind, we really need to be doing better on the road,” admitted the 42-year old. “Looking ahead to next season, it would be great to show at the end of this campaign that our away form is starting to improve.”
Hertha have a clear plan
The Zerofivers, who will be accompanied by around 1,300 travelling fans at the Olympiastadion on Saturday, know that a top performance will be required to take anything home from the capital. Since Felix Magath took over at Hertha in mid-March, their record has really improved. “Hertha have done a lot of good things. Their playing style is much more structured and it’s become a lot more difficult to create chances against them. They’re a very compact side who follow a clear plan,” Svensson has observed.
His analysis proves that FSV will be a facing a different challenge compared to the free-flowing playing style of the German record champions. “Hertha defend more as a block and haven’t seen much of the ball in recent games. It’ll be a different game to the one we played against Bayern, and we’ll have to see if any tactical changes are necessary,” the Zerofivers head coach commented on his side’s potential approach to the game. Possible changes to the line-up could see the inclusion of Jeremiah St. Juste, who was back in the matchday squad to face Bayern last weekend, or even Jae-Sung Lee. The South Korean returned to training this week and could be an option for the weekend, depending on what happens in the next couple of days. “He would make us more tactically flexible,” said Svensson.
We’ll have to see if any tactical changes are necessary.
Regardless of personnel, the former Zerofivers player is convinced that his side won’t replicate the performance which led to the heavy defeat in Wolfsburg, as they will instead be spurred on by the brilliant result against Bayern: “The lads need to really want to get something from this game. I’ve sensed in training this week that that’s been the case. The desire is there, which is a good and important sign.”