Pros 14.02.2019 — 18:49 Uhr

Basics and balance prioritised over Bundesliga record

05ers head coach Sandro Schwarz isn’t interested in talking about a potential seventh consecutive draw against VfL Wolfsburg – “in that case, long balls are the better option”

The reverse fixture ended goalless.

The 05ers coaching team played a bold, attacking team at home against Bayer 04 Leverkusen in their carnival match last Friday. However, Sandro Schwarz’s side were punished and fell to a heavy home defeat. Two days before Mainz travel to face VfL Wolfsburg, Schwarz said in his pre-match press conference that he wants to avoid a repeat of that disappointing performance. Nevertheless, Schwarz wants his side to play to their strengths against upcoming opponents Wolfsburg. The 05ers also want to find the right balance to their game and improve the small details of their style of play.

Despite the two recent defeats, which had set the team back after promising victories over VfB Stuttgart and 1. FC Nürnberg to start the year, the 40-year-old head coach believes that the team haven’t suffered any discomforts in training. “We certainly don’t have that feeling. We have to go back to basics and bring our strengths and qualities onto the pitch on Saturday. The players continue to work hard, are focused and continue to adopt our style of play with ease,” added Schwarz. The Mainz head coach shared some of the training exercises his side have undertaken to prepare for Wolfsburg. “We have worked in groups and individually on tactics, for example in match scenarios of two against two or four against four. We have place the importance of winning tackles and defending our goal as pivotal for training. At the same time, we have also simulated full match scenarios to work on approach play.”

"I want to always let games run their course" - 'Fundamental confidence' from the sporting director

While the 05ers want to again "make their mark on the game off the ball" against Wolfsburg, in order to build the foundations for a successful 90 minutes, the right decisions need to be made when on the ball in two areas, as the coach demands. "I want to always let games run their course. On the pitch though, it's always about finding the right balance and making suitable decisions in various game scenarios," explains Schwarz. "If you've got a wall of players in front of you, playing a longer ball might be the better option, to then win any second balls. It's generally important for us to have our players tight together up front when on the ball, in order to be able to quickly cover certain areas if we lose the ball."

Poor play on the ball as well as the defence not dealing with losing possession meant that Leverkusen went into the break 4-1 ahead last Friday, after punishing Mainz a number of times on the counter attack. It was a learning process for the young Mainz side. The players’ decisions should improve for the game against Wolfsburg, so that they can get back to winning ways.

The side had started the Rückrunde positively and sporting director Rouven Schröder reaffirmed his confidence in the team and the head coach, even when things aren’t going so well. We have looked at the previous games and know how to deal with it – we’ve been in similar situations before. We will give it everything in Wolfsburg.”

The last six meetings between the two teams have ended in a draw – a seventh would equal a Bundesliga record. The last time two Bundesliga teams achieved this feat was from 1993 to 1995, between Karlsruher FC and 1. FC Kaiserslautern, but that doesn’t interest Schwarz. “We have no intention of setting any records. Wolfsburg are a good team with some strong players and a winning mentality. At the end of the day, it’s up to us to cause them to make mistakes.” If Mainz are able to avoid losing the ball easily in advanced areas, it is more likely that they will be able to put the Leverkusen result behind them and find the rediscover the balance of determination and smart play.