31.01.2023 — 16:41 Uhr

An “exciting challenge” in the round of 16

Bo Svensson is expecting to come up again a “fully motivated” Bayern side in the last 16 of the DFB-Pokal on Wednesday evening.

The Zerofivers in action against Bayern earlier in the season.

Attention now turns to Wednesday evening as Mainz welcome FC Bayern to a sold-out MEWA ARENA in the last 16 of the DFB-Pokal. Mainz secured two 3-0 wins in the opening rounds against Erzgebirge Aue and VfB Lübeck, whereas Bayern beat Viktoria Köln 5-0 and FC Augsburg 5-2. Bo Svensson spoke to the media on Tuesday evening ahead of the game and the head coach is looking forward to welcoming the reigning Bundesliga champions: “We are looking forward to a game against the best team in Germany in a sold-out stadium. It is an exciting challenge but it goes without saying that it will be difficult,” explained the Dane.

Increasing their performance levels

The Zerofivers have beaten FC Bayern on their last two trips to the MEWA ARENA (2-1, 3-1) and the Boss believes his side can build on these performances on Wednesday evening: “It is no secret that we played two great games against Bayern but maybe we didn’t face them on their best day. That’s what you need when you take them on,” said the 43-year-old. The head coach also praised his side for their incremental improvements in the first three games of the year against VfB Stuttgart, Borussia Dortmund and VfL Bochum, but he also made it clear that they will have to step up their game once again against FCB.

Remaining courageous - even against Bayern

Svensson also explained that the current situation at Bayern will not affect how his side will approach the game on Wednesday. “From Bayern’s perspective, the three points they have picked up this year aren’t enough, but you have to look at the games from a different perspective,” said the Dane. The head coach also warned that FCB will have a point to prove after only managing 1-1 draws in each of their games against Leipzig, Köln and Eintracht Frankfurt: “Knowing Bayern, they will be fully motivated going into the game and they will have a point to prove.”

In every position they have the best players that there are in Germany

Svensson argued that against Bayern you have to pay attention to lots of different things, but it is also important not to lose focus on your own way of playing. “In every position they have the best players that there are in Germany. This means that you have to play a perfect game to match them. In addition to this, you also need a bit of luck at times,” said Svensson, knowing the difficulty of the challenge of beating Bayern at home for the third time in a row. He went on to add that without courage in your own performance you can’t compete against any opponent. “Regardless of how much quality the other team has, you always have to keep focussed on your own strengths,” emphasised the Zerofivers head coach. However, the team also tried this in the most recent away game in Munich which finished 6-2 to Bayern. “It is a fine line,” said the Dane.

A totally different game

Svensson added that, “the belief in ourselves” will also be decisive to the outcome of the game. “How do I act as the full-back against one of the best players one-on-one, how can I assert myself against the best centre-backs in the world, can I win my duels as a number six and how do I react if that doesn’t happen,” are among the key duels in the game according to the Mainz head coach. “I am excited to see how we manage to do as a team, and how we deal with these challenges,” said Svensson, with the expectation that his team will show a good mentality on the pitch and showcase Mainz’s values against the most successful team in DFB-Pokal history.

According to the Zerofivers head coach, there is not too much that the team can take from the 5-2 league win against VfL Bochum last Saturday, because there are hardly two teams in the league that are more different than Bochum and Bayern. So, a completely different game is ahead of them.

Dahmen to start in goal again

The head coach will be able to draw from the same pool of players as against Bochum last weekend. “Everyone who was available on Saturday is able to play again and none of our injured players are ready to return,” Svensson said during the pre-match press conference on Tuesday, confirming that Robin Zentner will not feature tomorrow. The goalkeeper’s condition has improved (back injury), but it’s still too soon for him to feature in the cup against Bayern. Ben Bobzien, who has since joined SV Elversberg on loan until the end of the season, will also not be in the squad.

The possibility that the coach might rotate his squad is there, as Svensson is hoping for an energetic performance against the record champions. It will be FSV’s fourth game in just 10 days, with the team back in action against Union Berlin on Saturday again (15:30 CET). “We will have to wait and see who will feature,” Svensson said, adding that there are more than just 11 talented players in the squad,

No extra motivation needed 

As a player, Svensson featured in the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal in 2009 with Mainz, the furthest the club have ever gone in the competition. Back then, the Zerofivers were knocked out after extra-time by Bayer Leverkusen. “The competition isn’t a marathon, but rather a series of short sprints that you need to win,” he said, adding that the cup is something special. “I don’t have to make that clear to the players, however, because they know exactly what is at stake. It would be nice to go as far as possible in this competition. We have a very tough challenge standing in our path and we’re ready to tackle it,” Svensson said, keeping the focus on the here and now.

On Wednesday evening, it will come down to delivering a top level performance, focusing on those things the team can influence and staying true to the Mainz 04 DNA. Svensson, for his part, can hardly wait to get underway against FC Bayern.