Bo Svensson knows that Augsburg’s WWK Arena can be a tough trip for Mainz, ahead of the 05ers returning to Bavaria on Saturday afternoon (15:30 CEST). “It is no secret that we haven’t exactly shone in our recent visits to Augsburg,” recalled the head coach at a press conference two days before the match. “We know what a tough away day it is, and how difficult it has been for us in the past. That is already additional motivation,” the Dane added on Thursday afternoon.
Mainz have lost in their last six visits to Swabia (once in the DFB Pokal, five times in the Bundesliga), with their last success coming on 18th September, 2016. Martin Schmidt, who was head coach at the time and is now sporting director, explained: “There are values that make Mainz 05, which need to be displayed on Saturday; because there you will always come up against a side who fight with similar means.” Svensson’s approach cannot be different, especially with the difficulties that have come with playing Augsburg:
“They will want to play with physical intensity and power. We will need to give our everything and deliver our best performance to be successful there,” said Svensson, who noted that Augsburg will have further facets to their game under their new head coach. “Their game is already different. They’re more creative with the ball, but are more direct on the counter, while presenting their opponents new challenges while defending,” observed Svensson.
Svensson sees room for improvement in matches
Augsburg were able to collect three points from their first two matches. Having lost 4-0 to Freiburg on the first weekend, they responded by beating Bayer Leverkusen 2-1. But with a win away at Bochum and a draw against Union Berlin, the Zerofivers did get off to a slightly better start to the season than the Fuggerstadt-based side, which, along with the Pokal victory against Aue, is a pleasing fact for the coach, at least in terms of tangible results. In terms of on-pitch performance, the Dane made clear that there was room for improvement: though it is normal that not everything is perfect at the start of the season, and that some routines aren’t quite up to scratch.
“We are thinking a lot about and working on the things that aren’t quite right yet. The boys want to bring their tactical and physical games to the next level, we’ve taken the next step there,” Svensson said, optimistic that his side will be able to raise the level of their own game come Saturday afternoon.
We’ve taken the next step there
For the coaching staff, the next step is selecting the squad. They will have a full complement of players to choose from, except Danny da Costa (who “needs more time”) – the right decisions will need to be made not only for the starting XI, but also who could change the game from the bench. The fit-again Jonathan Burkardt, who will certainly be in the squad, is in contention for the bench as well as the XI. As for who would start? “I am very satisfied that we are in good stead in attack, and that we can set up flexibly,” explained the coach, who also assumed that he would be working with the same squad that he has currently after the transfer window closes on 31st August.