A season finale with many emotional highs
The Zerofivers are looking to deliver another complete performance against Hoffenheim – a final goodbye from the captain
Despite a strong showing recently, Mainz will not be able to meet head coach Sandro Schwarz’s goal of finishing the season in tenth place. Regardless of the result against Hoffenheim on the final matchday of the season, the Zerofivers will not be able to make up the goal difference between themselves and tenth-place Hertha Berlin. But, the head coach is still satisfied with his side. “I’m happy that we’ve managed to get back to playing our game before the end of the season,” Schwarz told the media at the Bruchweg on Tuesday afternoon. The Zerofivers delivered a strong showing in the derby against Eintracht Frankfurt with a 2-0 win.
After ensuring that the team would stay up, Mainz did not let up and went into each remaining game highly motivated, ready to play, and hungry for the win. “It was important for us to not play any different week-to-week, and that we didn’t let up at all. We’re a team that has to stay focused on our goals. We need to be persistent and keep working on those areas that we can improve on,” said Schwarz. As such, nothing will change ahead of the final match of the season against Hoffenheim. “On Saturday, we want to do exactly what we’ve been doing the past few weeks, in order to finish strong in front of our fans in the Opel Arena.”
95 take-ons completed
As for Schwarz, he is still feeling good after Saturday’s game. “It was a great away game for us in Frankfurt. We completed a team-high 95 take-ons.” The Zerofivers usually average around 42 a game—something they surpassed in just the first half against Frankfurt. But, there were still areas that could have been improved on. “We outplayed their defenders, but our finishing and number of completed passes could have been a lot better. We missed a lot of chances,” said Schwarz. In the end, Mainz were unlucky to have scored just twice.
The team was solid at the back, with the exception of a few moments just before half where the Zerofiver defence looked a little shaky. In preparation for the match, assistant coach Jan-Moritz Lichte thoroughly reviewed game film with the back four, as well as the defensive midfielders. “Overall we successfully delivered a complete performance on the pitch,” said Schwarz.
Three training sessions remain
“We shut down Frankfurt’s attack, attacked well and were able to find space up front. Given that we lined up with a diamond in our formation, we had an extra player against their three midfielders. We were better offensively in the second half, and were able to play through to our strikers and offensive midfielder. Being able to play deep and get behind their back line was the key for us,” said Schwarz.
The team had Tuesday off, with any players that were a bit banged up from Sunday’s match heading to the Bruchweg to get checked out. “As of Wednesday, we have three training sessions left (two of them being open to the public). On Saturday, we want to bring everything we’ve got against Hoffenheim once again,” said Schwarz. “In the dressing room after the derby, we said to ourselves that it feels really good to win games. It wouldn’t make sense if our only emotional highlight of the season was this game against Frankfurt. We still have two big moments ahead of us: our final game of the season, and giving our captain Niko Bungert a fitting send off in his final game."