1. FSV Mainz 05 have taken seven points from their first three games this season, as they prepare to host Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Saturday afternoon (15:30 CEST). The Champions League participants are still without a point in 2022/23, but head coach Bo Svensson doesn’t see his side automatically slipping into the role of the favourites this weekend. “Their games so far this season have been very different,” he explained during the pre-match press conference. “They should have won both in Dortmund [1-0 loss] and against Augsburg [2-1]. They have top-quality players and we will need to deliver a top performance in order to keep up,” Svensson said.
The Dane is also looking forward to the second home game of the season, adding that the atmosphere in the stadium will be an important factor in Saturday’s clash with the Werkself. “We are playing at home and want to give it everything – we always want to compete with the best,” he said. “We know how tough it will be. We will need the support of our fans. I hope that many people will be there, as we need everything to go our way.” Saturday’s game will take place on Family Day, with several pre-match activities planned to amuse both young and old at the MEWA ARENA.
We know how tough it will be, which is why we will need the support of our fans.
Plenty of missed chances for the visitors
While Leverkusen have failed to deliver on the expectations so far, Gerardo Seoane’s side displayed flashes of brilliance last season, despite squandering several chances. “They weren’t always able to turn their strong performances into goals,” he commented. This season, B04 have had 19 chances on goal, but have scored just once. Only Bayern (30) and Gladbach (23) have created more chances this season. FSV have scored four goals from 17 chances so far. Three of these goals have been scored by Karim Onisiwo, including one against Augsburg last time out. He now has more goal involvements in the Bundesliga for the Zerofivers than any other player. However, Svensson measures the Austrian’s importance to the team in more than just goals and assists.
“Karim was an important part of the team for us last season already. Since I’ve been here, he’s been a key figure due to his style of play. Sometimes, I need to remind him of that when he’s upset with himself. I’m happy for him that he’s been able to score, but that doesn’t change how I see him. He’s very, very important for us, which he’s realised as well by now,” praised the coach.
He’s very, very important for us, which he’s realised as well by now.
“He’s a very physical striker, who brings in a lot of pace and energy. He also provided nine assists last season,” Svensson said. “The way he plays helps us both on and off the ball. Our defence receives a lot of praise, but the work starts up top. What our strikers do has a massive impact on our game. We expect a lot from them,” Svensson said, who views the harmony between each individual position as being the key to playing successful football.
No replacement for Ingvartsen – training game vs. Wiesbaden on Sunday
The Zerofivers will be without Marcus Ingvartsen (knee) for several weeks, but Svensson will otherwise have a full squad to choose from. The club will not look to sign a replacement for the forward, however, said the coach: “I have confidence in my squad and see what they invest each and every day.”
The team will play a training match against Wehen Wiesbaden on Sunday (11:00 CEST, MEWA ARENA) in order to give those players who haven’t seen much game time so far and chance to play. Entry to the match will be free of charge for all.
On the decision to arrange a 90-minute training game on short notice, Svensson said “Nearly every player received the same amount of playing time during pre-season. Over the first few matchdays, that hasn’t been the case, but the players still need match practice. If they don’t get it, then we can’t expect them to perform when we need them on the seventh or eighth matchday.” Which players will feature on Sunday will be determined by the result from the previous day’s game, which the Zerofivers will look to come out of with all three points in hand.