Anticipation for the challenge ahead
Mainz open their Bundesliga campaign with an away trip to SC Freiburg on Saturday. “We will try to bring back the same attitude we showed in the final game of last season,” said Schwarz.
The disappointment of bowing out in the first round of the DFB-Pokal was huge, but the players are over that now and are fully focused on the start of the new Bundesliga season. “We all felt awful after the game, but we gain nothing from taking this frustration and negativity in to the next match,” said Sandro Schwarz in his press conference just a couple of days before the game against SC Freiburg.
The Mainz head coach had already advised the players to let go of their frustration straight after the game at the Betzenberg. Only then would they be able to train the following week with clear minds, free from negativity. “From Tuesday onwards, it was important that we focused all our attention on the start of the Bundesliga season. We have a whole new year ahead of us, 34 more games. We have all that to be excited about,” said the 40-year-old.
Showing a good attitude
The fans shouldn’t doubt the team after the loss in the DFB-Pokal. "Instead of looking back on the loss as a massive failure, we should be looking ahead to Saturday in Freiburg and a chance to redeem ourselves. Then it’s straight on to the game at home to Mönchengladbach. This is the challenge that we need to overcome together as a team. The loss was a bitter one yes, but now it's time to show the attitude we've shown as a team so many times, and it has to start on matchday 1. For that to happen, we need to rediscover what made us so strong last season, particularly at the end. That has to be the foundation for this coming campaign.”
“We need a positive mentality, we need to know what we do well as a team. We need intensity, incisiveness, energy. We need to play our own game. These are the things we have to focus on before the opening match.” Schwarz also said he had recently reminded the team that they can still redeem themselves following the negative result against Kaiserslautern. “We were too slapdash. It had nothing to do with a lack of readiness or anything like that, it was more a lack of structure, and we lost our heads," the Zerofivers coach explained. “Maintaining the structure we had in the first half hour for the full 90 minutes and then taking our chances when we get them has to be our aim. We have to be more clinical; we should have been 3-0 up after half an hour against Kaiserslautern," said the coach. He didn’t want to attribute everything to the loss of the currently injured Jean-Philippe Mateta, but all those missed chances can’t be ignored. "Everyone in the team is responsible for scoring goals."
18 outfield players in the squad
In other news, there’s a chance Taiwo Awoniyi could feature on Saturday. The new man, signed on loan from Liverpool, is in the squad for the game against Freiburg, along with Jeremiah St. Juste, who was handed his DFB-Pokal debut against Kaiserslautern due to Stefan Bell’s injury. With the new rule allowing up to 9 substitutes, Schwarz will take 18 outfield players and two goalkeepers to Freiburg. “We’re all going to the game and we will all sit on the bus together. We want to improve morale heading in to the match.”
The long-term injury to Mainz captain Stefan Bell won’t lead to the club searching for a replacement. “We did discuss it,” said Rouven Schröder. “However, we felt that we have a good enough squad and that we didn’t need to bring in any more defenders.”