Pros 04.05.2022 — 19:49 Uhr

Barreiro: “It meant a lot to be able to share that experience with them”

Leandro Barreiro discusses his special goal against Bayern, the upcoming fixtures against Hertha and Frankfurt and his role within the team.

Leandro Barreiro is still on a high after his goal against Bayern at the weekend. The 22-year-old made the jump from the youth academy to the first team and has become one of Bo Svensson’s key men. The Luxembourger played an important role in the 3-1 victory over Bayern at the weekend, and not just because of his strong performance in midfield. He scored the decisive goal which broke the back of the game, as Stefan Bell put it afterwards.

Barreiro scored his first goal of the season in his 29th appearance. “The fact that I am feeling better than last week is perhaps obvious,” said the youngster. “It was my first goal of the season and a goal in the Bundesliga is always something special. Sure, it could’ve happened earlier, but I have continued to work hard and have remained patient. I was sure that it would happen sooner or later. The fact that it was against Bayern and at the MEWA ARENA is something special,” he said.

All of a sudden it was over the line

Barreiro explains that he received the ball in the 57th minute and tried to curl one past the Bayern goalkeeper. “I saw that the ball deflected off the shoulder or the back of the defender and flicked up into the air. I kind of stood there because I wasn’t sure what had happened. It felt like the ball was in the air for an eternity. I couldn’t really see that it had hit the bar. I saw the ball bounce and it was over the line. I was simply buzzing and I ran off to celebrate. I watched it back in the dressing room and I saw that it had hit the underside off the crossbar. From where I was stood, all I could see was the ball going up in the air, spinning and coming down again. Then all of a sudden in was over the line.”

It meant a lot to be able to share that experience with them.

Barreiro was delighted to score his first goal of the season in front of the fans. “My two goals last season came when the stadiums were empty. It was even more special because my family finally got to see me score a goal in the Bundesliga live and in the flesh. It meant a lot to be able to share that experience with them. It was validation,” Barreiro explained. He continued: “The way I see it, if I play well, then I know I am doing the right thing. Scoring is just an added bonus. I am not a striker. I am not measured in terms of goals. But just like everyone else, I do enjoy scoring. I am delighted that after all the hard work I have put in, I managed to score an important goal against Bayern.”

Barreiro scored his first goal for FSV in a 3-2 win over Leipzig last season

Concentrating on his own performances

Many media outlets are quick to jump to conclusions when FC Bayern lose a game. “Bayern lost in Mainz, therefore Bayern were bad,” is the kind of statement that Barreiro has become used to, to the point where it no longer bothers him. “I only look at our performances as a team. What I saw on Saturday was a great team performance. One of our best of the season in fact. We deservedly won the game. We played superbly well and Bayern just weren’t on our level. It’s as simple as that.”

Mainz outfought and outthought their opponents at the weekend and the record champions simply had no answer. It can often hinge on how the team starts the game, according to Barreiro. “We started the game really well and were very confident. That’s how it continued,” said the midfielder. This is how it has been in many games at the MEWA ARENA this season. Mainz have gone toe-to-toe with many different teams and have played their own brand of football. They get the crowd going with their exciting performances and try to get the sparks flying. The victory over Bayern was The Zerofivers’ second win in a row at home, which delighted coach Bo Svensson.

Bayern just weren’t on our level. It’s as simple as that

“We know what we are capable of as a team,” said Barreiro. “You can see how strong we are in the home form table. The away table is of course disappointing. We haven’t been amazing in every home game but we have been very consistent. As a team, we are satisfied with how we have performed at home.” Mainz have only nine goals at home and have entertained the crowd with some great performances. Barreiro was also quick to point out that after the pandemic, it was important to play some exciting football in front of a full stadium in order to bring in new fans. “It was sad that fans weren’t able to watch us in the first half of the season. This makes it even better than we can share these experiences with them. They give us that extra push and help us in the close games,” said the 22-year-old.

Barreiro and Niakhaté celebrating with the fans after the game

A week like no other

It was a tough experience for Barreiro after the 5-0 drubbing to VfL Wolfsburg. “It was a week like no other. The coach was fuming. There was a video analysis session after the game and we spoke about what happened. It was explained to us, in no uncertain terms, that we were not good enough and how we presented ourselves was unacceptable. Everything was made clear to us. The day off that we were supposed to have at the start of the week was pushed back. We worked intensively in training in order to work through the problems. We wanted to be focussed going into the Bayern game. It was hard work but after the weekend, it is clear that it is what we needed.”

It was explained to us, in no uncertain terms, that we were not good enough

“You shouldn’t need any extra motivation to get yourself up for a Bundesliga game,” emphasised Barreiro. “That shouldn’t be necessary for professional footballers.” Everything was laid out clearly in the lead up to the Bayern game and the team worked hard over the entire week. “There were no question marks over what we needed to do. Everyone knew their task and what was expected of them. Bayern played how we expected them to. At home we have lots of energy and self confidence. We believe that we are amongst the best teams at home. That is how we approached the game.”

“Every phase helps you on your journey. Dealing with adversity improves you as a person and as a footballer.”

Full of confidence going to Berlin

Mainz are going into the Hertha game with a similar amount of confidence. The team have started their preparations for their trip to the capital and are working on their game plan. “We know what we need to do in this game. Everyone is aware again and we know that our away form hasn’t been enough. However, we still have this game and we want to win it. All of this has been explained to us in training and we are travelling to Berlin with lots of confidence and we are in a good place.

We are travelling to Berlin with lots of confidence and we are in a good place.

After Hertha, The Zerofivers are set to play Eintracht Frankfurt. According to Barreiro, the team don’t need any extra motivation for that one. Mainz are currently sat on 42 points, with a possible 6 still to play for. 48, however, hasn’t been named as a specific target. “We look to pick up points in every game we play. Against Hertha we need to win because we haven’t shown any form away from home all season. Eintracht is the final home game of the season and we want to put on a show for the fans and pick up the points. We want to show the fans that we are thankful for their support. That is what is on the line for us.”

No one ever got anywhere by moaning

Barreiro has played 29 times so far this season and he has learned a lot. Competition for places in midfield has been different compared to last year. “When I didn’t play I continued to work hard and looked to keep developing. You have to keep working on yourself. There are often phases in which you play a lot and then some phases in which you don’t feature at all. Staying on the ball is important. You can only succeed through hard work. No one ever got anywhere by moaning. That has been my approach all season. 29 appearances from a possible 34 is a decent return,” said the 21-year-old. He continued: “I want to become a better player. Every phase helps you on your journey. Dealing with adversity improves you as a person and as a footballer.”

You can only succeed through hard work

According to Barreiro, this will also be the approach next season. The midfielder is becoming an experienced player. “I don’t like terms such as leader or regular player. Since I have been a pro, I have always been someone who has tried talk to everyone, whether they are young or old. I like being a point of contact and I like listening to people and giving them advice. It doesn’t matter how old they are. I already have lots of experience that I can share. I am who I am and I hope that will never change.”