Pros 19.05.2023 — 17:40 Uhr

A responsibility to Mainz 05

Bo Svensson focused on his own team’s performance ahead of the game against VfB Stuttgart, regardless of the opposition’s position in the league.

Karim Onisiwo being challenged by Konstantinos Mavropanos.

For the last home match of the 2022/23 season, 1. FSV Mainz 05 will host VfB Stuttgart at the MEWA ARENA on Sunday afternoon (15:30 CEST). After three defeats in a row, the Zerofivers want to get back on track and bring the strong second half of the season, in which they went ten games unbeaten, to a positive end. “We want to put out a good performance,” said head coach Bo Svensson at Friday’s press conference ahead of the final home game. The focus should be on the team’s own game, as it has been for most of the season. The league standings and the opposition’s situation should not play a role, according to the FSV coach, who demands full concentration in the final stretch of the season.

Not the Mainz DNA

“I heard the comments from the boys and they know that that was not our ambition. I didn’t have to say much,” said Svensson on the mood within the team after the 3-0 defeat in Frankfurt. He is satisfied with the squad’s work in the training week after the three defeats, believing that they want to work their way out of this current situation.

There are several reasons for it, of which mental freshness is certainly a big part.

The Zerofivers’ coach also sees the performance against Eintracht, which is capable of improvement on many levels, in connection with the emotional last-minute defeat against Schalke 04 a week earlier. “Maybe we underestimated a bit how deeply it affected the players,” said the 43-year-old, critical of himself. Although there was a good feeling before the game in Frankfurt, he realised after just ten minutes that something wasn’t right. “It wasn’t that the players didn’t want it, but more that we lacked impetus, and then it becomes a difficult game,” he said.

Finding that mental freshness again

The team were not at the level they wanted to be against a hungry opposition, but the coach didn’t notice a lack of attitude or mentality. “There are several reasons for it, of which mental freshness is certainly a big part,” said Svensson.

It is a good question how to get that mental freshness back now just two matches before the end of the season. “You listen to the coaching team and the players and rely on your gut feeling,” said the Dane. They are trying to bring back that impetus with different methods during the longer training week, and are working on several points. Now in particular, they have to look at themselves again and measure themselves against the strengths of FSV. “We have handled it well over long periods of the season, and that is now the task for the last two games.”

Going into the summer with a positive feeling

Last season was viewed more positively from the outside because the team took seven points from the last three games. “Now I have the feeling that it will be seen as a rather bad season, also because we had the chance to achieve more,” explained Svensson. The order of events is also significant in this, since after three defeats, the ten game unbeaten run would have been quickly forgotten. With a win against VfB, the Zerofivers would reach 48 points and surpass last season’s tally one matchday before the end. “You also have to look at it from this perspective,” said the FSV coach. Nevertheless, the last impression is the one that remains. “It would be a shame to end a good season like this,” after all, he said, “you want to go into the summer with a positive feeling.”

Above all, we have a responsibility to Mainz 05.

The fact that the two remaining opponents are Stuttgart and Borussia Dortmund, who are fighting to stay in the league and win the league respectively, doesn’t play a major role according to Svensson. “That is an issue that is created from the outside. Above all, we have a responsibility to Mainz 05,” he explained. Nevertheless, Svensson sees an “additional attraction” and is looking forward to two games in front of a sell-out crowd and will attract “special attention.” The team will approach the tasks with the same seriousness: “Using games in the Bundesliga to try something out goes against all my principles. They are not friendly matches,” he made clear. “It is a competition in which we want to win games.

Svensson wants to bring back the mental freshness in the final stretch of the season.

Several absences against a “compact” VfB side

The upcoming opponents from Swabia are a team with high individual quality. Under new coach Sebastian Hoeneß, VfB have tried to control games more and not to let them become chaotic, as well as playing more compactly. “That wasn’t the case at the beginning of the season,” said the 43-year-old, recognising the side’s development, also mentioning their “good structure” and “quick players up top.” In Atakan Karazor and Wataru Endo, their midfield is also “very well” set up. “After saying that, it’s funny that they are in the relegation battle, because I don’t see any real weak points,” said Svensson.

After saying that, it’s funny that they are in the relegation battle, because I don’t see any real weak points.

Apart from captain Silvan Widmer and Jonathan Burkardt, Alex Hack, who has had groin problems for several weeks now, will be absent for the game against VfB and will now undergo a “minor operation” to correct the issue. Robin Zentner had a knee problem during training on Wednesday and is therefore a doubt, as is Dominik Kohr, who took a blow to the face.