A different but not completely new look
Nine points in nine Rückrunde games means Mainz have yielded the same number of points as they did at this point in the Hinrunde. Sandro Schwarz therefore hopes to find the form of mid-season after the international break.
March has not been a good month for the Zerofivers in recent seasons. You’d have to go back more than three years to find the last victory in this calender month - a 2-1 victory on the 2nd of March 2016 with Jairo Samerio and Jhon Cordoba getting the goals. Their opponents? FC Bayern München, ironically. That now seems a long time ago. On a return visit, Mainz and their 2000 travelling fans did not see the same result this time around. With a 6-0 loss, Mainz suffered their biggest defeat in their Bundesliga history. The loss now sees them sit just ten points above the relegation zone. It's apparently time for the Zerofivers to sharpen up their edges and go for a different look.
With a very convincing 3-0 win over Schalke 04, Mainz finished February on a high and sat with 30 points after 23 games. However, the step into March was not an easy one, and the losses in Berlin and Mönchengladbach, as well as the result this past weekend, have left coach Sandro Schwarz disappointed. He was clear in his criticisms and looked to work on things during the international break. “Obviously with the early goals it was clear our game was not going to go so well. With the two goals before half-time and the 4-0 score line coming just shortly after the break, the game was decided long before it was over. We wanted a better performance and better result,” said the 40-year-old. His team were not influential enough against Bayern and didn’t take the game into their own hands. Another problem that has been apparent in the last few games appeared again in Sunday's game was the lack of goal threat, with an attacking presence nowhere to be seen. “We had a few chances in Munich from outside the box. There are situations that you need to have in a game and capitalise on. We’ve not been doing that very effectively recently.”
As a rule, Schwarz would like to see the “sharpness” the team provides in the defensive third in the attacking third as well. Over the course of the season the team have shown enough that they are able to show a different side to themselves than how they are playing at the moment.
Highs & Lows
That’s all part of a young team with a long club history behind them. They started the season strongly, culminating in a 2-1 win over FC Augsburg which saw them gain seven points from their first three games. Then came the five games in a row without a goal for the Zerofivers. The team came out the other side, however, and avoided the difficulties they faced away from home last season with wins in Freiburg and Düsseldorf. At the end of the Hinrunde, inspiring performances against Eintracht Frankfurt and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim were rewarded with points in both games as well as providing a lot of entertaining football for the fans. The Rückrunde also had the perfect start, with victories in Stuttgart and against Nürnberg, but were then followed by small setbacks. The fact that Mainz have now gained exactly the same amount of points at this stage in the Rückrunde as in the Hinrunde has changed nothing.
No one wants to spark contempt at the Bruchweg, but all too often these kind of issues lead to a standstill in development. The coach, who expects developmental steps, wants to reduce the irregularity of his team’s performances and put high demands on both himself and his team. Consistency is a keyword, reality is another. It is worth mentioning that there are still eight games of the season left to go. Defeats are always something you have to deal with and who would know better than the Zerofivers? With the break in games at the moment, the team can focus on themselves and their improvement. “We will use the break to gather our thoughts and build bridges over some small holes in our play,” said Sporting Director Rouven Schröder after the match in Munich.