1. FSV Mainz 05 added a point to their tally after a 0-0 draw with VfB Suttgart last weekend, taking them onto 39 points for the season. Reason to celebrate in Mainz then, as the team have mathematically secured safety with four matchdays to spare. “We haven’t won a couple of games recently, which might take some of the shine off the performances that the team and coaches have delivered so far this season,” Christian Heidel said ahead of Friday’s away game in Wolfsburg.
“The fact that we have secured safety with four matchdays left hasn’t happened often in the past,” said Heidel. The last time Mainz managed the feat was in 2019. “Even if we were to lose the last four games, which hopefully won’t happen, we have known since matchday 30 that we can start planning for another season in the Bundesliga. That’s always something special for Mainz 05,” said the sporting director. Head coach Bo Svensson, who guided the Zerofivers to a spectacular comeback in the second half of last season to help the club stay up, agreed with Heidel.
There are currently only six teams in Germany that have been in the Bundesliga longer than Mainz 05.
According to Heidel, back in 2004 “we arrived in the Bundesliga with the aim of having fun for a season and to then go straight back down. Instead, it’s now 2022 and we’re still in the same league, with the exception of a one-year absence. There are currently only six teams in Germany that have been in the Bundesliga longer than Mainz 05. As of the summer, we will be playing our 17th season in the Bundesliga, for the 14th consecutive year. When I look at where the club were 18 months ago, and where we are now, I have to say that we are on an incredible path forward. We are in a completely different league financially compared to the bigger clubs, some of which are currently in the second division,” he said. Only Bayern, Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Mönchengladbach and Hoffenheim have been in the Bundesliga longer without ever being relegated, while the Foals and TSG have only been in the top flight a year longer than the Zerofivers.
And the rest?
Former top-tier clubs such as Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen are currently fighting to win promotion back to the Bundesliga. Hamburger SV and 1. FC Nürnberg are battling it out for a spot in the play-offs, while Düsseldorf no longer have a chance of coming up. In the 3. Liga, 1. FC Kaiserslautern could be promoted back to the second division, as could Eintracht Braunschweig. Former champions 1860 München are stuck in no-man’s land in the third division, while MSV Duisburg are fighting to avoid the drop down to the Regionalliga. In the fourth tier, Alemannia Aachen, who once faced Mainz in the Bundesliga, are hoping to avoid going down to the Oberliga.
At the same time, when looking at the season as a whole, it’s clear that we were never in any danger of going down.
On the other hand, Mainz have once again come through a season without ever once being in real danger of going down. Instead, the club can rue what might have been, had they picked up more points away from home. Svensson’s side were never positioned lower than 11th in the standings, after losing in Dortmund on matchday 8.
“I think it always comes down to whether you see the glass as being half empty or half full;” said Svensson. “We definitely had the feeling that we could have done better this season, especially after the recent double game week, which was a bit disappointing in terms of our results. At the same time, when looking at the season as a whole, it’s clear that we were never in any danger of going down. There have been several seasons where we really had to worry about going down, so it doesn’t hurt to view things as us having done much better than in previous years. That’s definitely a very positive development.”
Not many comparisons to draw
It’s only natural for their to be comparisons drawn between this season and last season, in which the Zerofivers narrowly escaped the drop. “Everyone can see it how they like, but it was an exceptional situation for us to be in last year. We needed to win nearly every game in order to even have a chance. Having just six points from the first 14 games was nearly as unusual as taking 32 points from the last 20 games. That’s why this season was a completely different story, and can’t really be compared. The whole situation was different,” explained Svensson.
“Understand that it’s their club”
“We knew as soon as we made it that we would have a lot of hard work ahead of us. We needed to make several changes in several areas. When I look back at the year, we did manage to improve, even if people can’t see that by looking only at the table or our points haul. We wanted to create new things internally,” said Svensson. Clubs like SC Freiburg have been successful because they have followed a constant process over many years under Christian Streich. “It’s clear to see what they are capable of doing. It should also be our goal to continue ensuring our status remains high, that we continue growing and doing things our way.”
It should also be our goal to continue ensuring our status remains high, that we continue growing and doing things our way.
The recent attendance figures show that fans are enjoying coming back to the stadium, with over 30,000 fans at the game against Stuttgart. “That’s one of the keys for me,” said Svensson. “We couldn’t measure it in the second half of last season, but that was one of our main goals. We want to create an atmosphere where people enjoy going to the stadium. That they understand that it’s their club, their team, and not just a couple of players who run around and you go and watch them sometimes. It belongs to the fans, and we want to promote this synergy between the club and the city. That remains a really important task for us. We have had some good performances at home, and there was been many strong games. That’s what it’s about. Our goal hasn’t changed, even with just four games left, and it’s served us well so far.”