“A point here would not have been enough”
Wagner: “We were lucky to win” – Schalke’s head coach was not expecting his team to get the winning goal / Schröder: “It’s frustrating to leave empty handed”
Losing is never pleasant, especially in games where a lot more was possible. Rouven Schröder described the 2-1 loss away to FC Schalke 04 on Friday evening as “incredibly annoying.” Mainz’s sporting director added: “It’s frustrating to leave here empty handed. We should not be coming away from the game as losers.”
Not one of the 58,687 spectators in the VELTINS Arena was expecting the hammer blow that hit Sandro Schwarz’s team on Friday night. They had been so commanding and dominant in the second half. After Karim Onisiwo cancelled out Suat Serdar’s opening goal with a fantastic finish, the only question was whether there was enough time for the Zerofivers to grab the winner.
“I didn’t see it coming”
“Once we scored the equaliser, a lot of people in the stadium thought we would push on and get all three points,” said the Mainz coach. Schalke boss David Wagner agreed: “If someone had asked me at the time who would get the next goal, I wouldn’t have said us. The former Mainz forward went on to say: “We were lucky to win the game.”
This luck came courtesy of Amine Harit who cut inside past Aarón in true Arjen Robben style and slotted the ball into the corner and out of Robin Zentner’s reach. A stroke of genius? “He dribbled right at our defence. You would hope we’d be able to prevent a goal like that,” said a disgruntled Schröder. The sporting director, himself an experienced centre-back, would have expected one of the Mainz defenders who could see the disaster approaching to simply throw themselves into the path of Harit and concede a free kick if needed. “Of course we could have defended it better. We stood eight metres from the goal and waited for him rather than actually trying to block the shot,” said Schwarz.
However, the defending was good on the whole. Mainz only allowed the hosts three real chances but they converted two of them with great efficiency. The boys were unable to take more from the game due to a disappointing first half performance and a failure to capitalise on their superiority in the second half. “Our big problem before the break was that we were not precise enough with our positioning. We kept winning the ball, passing it from side to side and losing it again,” recalled the Mainz coach. As a result, it was Schalke who got the opening goal.
Double substitution changed the game
“We all agree that the second half was ours. Or at least 40 minutes of it were,” said Schwarz. “We reacted well and completely turned the game around with a double substitution.” The coach brought off Kunde Malong and Danny Latza, moved Edimilson Fernandes to CDM and brought Alex Maxim and Ridle Baku on as attacking midfielders. Suddenly Mainz were firing on all cylinders – more pressing, more precision – everything that was missing before.
“You get the feeling that a point here would not have been enough,” lamented the boss. “We were dominant, composed and comfortable on the ball. Our passing was good, we created space and our defence was solid.” But the team needed to shoot more, like Onisiwo did for the equaliser. “We had so many options in the final third but weren’t aggressive enough. You just want to scream shoot!” said Schwarz. “We fluffed multiple chances. We hit it too high, too wide, we were too complicated with it. It’s a horrible feeling to come away with nothing.”