“Football can be so brutal”
The Zerofivers had better chances for 80 minutes, but still lost 3-0 to SC Freiburg with Jeremiah St. Juste also sustaining an injury.
Up until the 80th minute, nothing had really indicated that 1. FSV Mainz 05 would lose their first Bundesliga away game of the new season. Then the Zerofivers lost Jeremiah St. Juste to injury and SC Freiburg took advantage of Mainz’s sudden lack of organisation and scored three goals. “Football can be so brutal,” said Rouven Schröder at full time. “If you see the result and you weren’t there, it makes you think it was a one-sided game. But it was a very good away performance and losing 3-0 is hard to take.”
The game at the Schwarzwald-Stadion had just entered the final stages when three Mainz defenders collided into each other trying to stop a Freiburg attack, leaving Daniel Brosinski, Edimilson Fernandes and Jeremiah St. Juste down on the ground. Two of the Zerofivers were able to continue, however, St. Juste, who had impressed everyone on his Bundesliga debut with his speed, strength, positional play and strength in the tackle, was worse for wear. “He dislocated his shoulder,” head coach Sandro Schwarz explained after the game. “We have to wait and see. Hopefully we haven’t lost yet another centre back,” sporting director Schröder added. There was nothing more to confirm regarding the Dutchman’s injury on Sunday.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves”
The 2019/20 season hasn’t started exactly gone to plan so far for the Zerofivers. Stefan Bell picked up a serious injury against Kaiserslautern, forcing him out for a few months. Goal-getter Jean-Philippe Mateta and new signing Dong-Won Ji have suffered a similar fate too, with both recently having had surgery. Now St Juste’s injury adds to Mainz’s woes. On top of that, there are the two defeats in two games where Sandro Schwarz’s team played better than their opponents, yet failed to score despite creating a number of chances.
“We can’t start feeling sorry for ourselves or simply curse our luck. There’s no point in getting ourselves down about everything – that’s crucial,” the Zerofivers head coach urged. “The injuries and the results so far have put us in a tough position, but we need to tackle this challenge together as a team. We need to analyse the game. Taking today’s, for example, it’s one we definitely shouldn’t be losing, but rather the opposite – it’s one we ought to have won. When you put in as much effort as we did but fail to score a goal, you should at least not be conceding any. We did not manage that and that is the frustrating thing,” summarised Schwarz.
It was a good, intense, competitive game in which Freiburg had to do more of the running, with the Zerofivers moving the ball around well and looking to get forward with incisive football from the off. “There were a lot of positive elements and we played some very good football at times that almost led to a goal and kept control of the game. What we failed to do was convert that good football into a goal,” said Schwarz. Jean-Paul Boëtius’ perfect pass to Ridle Baku in the 26th minute to put him in behind with just Alexander Schwolow in his way was one of those key moments. Instead of shooting, Baku chose to square the ball across goal and the chance was gone. Danny Latza’s flash across the face of goal was another nearly moment, but neither Robin Quaison nor Karim Onisiwo could get on the end of it. Christian Streich’s team were happy to play on the counter and most of SCF chances came from set pieces and long shots, but Florian Müller dealt with them. After half time, the Zerofivers started to increase the pressure. First it was Onisiwo who came close, then Boëtius almost finished off a counterattack led by Aarón, and finally it was Quaison who had a chance that went begging.
“The scoreline doesn’t reflect the game”
“For 80 minutes, we showed a lot of quality, played with a good structure, won a lot of tackles, had good phases of possession and got into the box with incisive football,” said Schwarz. “However, a lot of our decision-making in the final third wasn’t quite right.” In total, Mainz had 19 shots on target, with Quaison alone responsible for six of them. “There was no sign of us conceding a goal in that second half, let alone three. We were knocking on the door, but the goal just wouldn’t come. It’s no surprise when the home team piles on the pressure in the final stages of the match,” added the Zerofivers head coach.
Müller twice thwarted Freiburg as they pushed forward, but after Alexander Hack came on for the injured St. Juste, the previously mentioned lack of organisation was there for SCF to “brutally” exploit, as Schwarz put it. “To then go and concede two more goals is of course painful.” Jonathan Schmid increased the lead to 2-0, before substitute Taiwo Awoniyi gave away a penalty when attempting to clear the ball, and Luca Waldschmidt converted. Christian Streich applauded his team for their performance: “The 3-0 scoreline doesn’t reflect the game, there’s no question about it.” While true, it still doesn’t soften the blow for Mainz after a painful weekend.