“A clear goal” in sight after staying up
Sandro Schwarz is calling for energy and passion from his side over the remaining four matches of the season
With just four games left to play before the end of the season, Mainz ensured they are staying up with a 3-1 win against Fortuna Düsseldorf this past weekend. The win means that Mainz will take part in their eleventh Bundesliga season in a row, an accomplishment that was well celebrated by the team and fans.
“It’s part of it. After a day like today I think it’s important for us to not just go home and say ‘alright, we’re staying up.’ It’s a moment that we really savoured,” said Sandro Schwarz following the first training session of the week on Tuesday. “Now it’s time to take aim at our next goal: finishing in tenth place in the table.”
The Zerofivers still have four tough games ahead of them: away against last place Hannover 96 on 27 April, then back home eight days later to face RB Leipzig, the derby against Eintracht Frankfurt on 12 May, before finishing a home against Hoffenheim on 18 May. “It all starts with the first game against Hannover, that’s where we will do everything we can to achieve our goal,” Schwarz said.
Mainz have an opportunity to make good on some mistakes from the second leg of the season where they picked up consecutive losses. “We don’t want to experience the feeling of losing multiple games in a row again. We’ve achieved the first goal we set for ourselves, now it’s time to keep pushing in order to fight for tenth place. It starts in Hannover. We have the quality, now it comes down to consistency.” For Schwarz, it’s a good thing that their opponents still have something left to play for. “We’re also still fighting for something. We want to win games. That’s why we have this goal of finishing tenth in mind, in order to not fade away at the end of the season. It’s an achievable goal for us. We have a reasonable amount of time in which to put in a lot of energy. The trick is to bring the passion, even when many people may think that we have nothing left to play for. That’s not the case for us,” Schwarz said.
Eight goals in two home games
The Zerofivers’ last two home games have featured plenty of goals and chances on net, with eight goals across two games. Nearly all of them were the result of great passing play, fast paced, accurate passes, and solid finishing on a scale not always seen on the field over the past few years. “It’s fun to watch, and is good entertainment for the fans in the Opel Arena when the goals come naturally. It leaves us with a good feeling as we look ahead to what’s next,” the coach said. With Niko Bungert returning to training, Schwarz may be able to call on the captain against Hannover. Stefan Bell has also recovered from his injury and is back to training. They are joined by Gerrit Holtmann, who made his return to training after a long absence.
Schwarz is happy to have so many players back in time for the end of the season. Mainz still have tough opponents ahead of them, including last place Hannover on Saturday. “We know that they need to win in order to have a realistic shot. We need to prepare ourselves for a tough match. That’s also an incentive for us,” Schwarz said. “We know that Hannover need those three points, however, we want them as well.”