Get stuck in from the first whistle
First Bundesliga game of the season away to VfL Bochum on Saturday
Bo Svensson spoke to the media on his 43rd birthday ahead of the start of the new Bundesliga season. His side will play VfL Bochum on matchday 1 away from home on Saturday at 15:30 CEST. When asked if his team got him a present, the Mainz head coach replied: “They sung for me, that was enough!” The focus quickly turned to this weekend. “I want us to play with real intensity at the weekend. We want to play as a team so that we can be successful in a loud stadium,” said Svensson. Around 1,300 Mainz fans will make the trip north to support their team.
VfL Bochum have lost a few key players over the summer in new Mainz man Maxim Leitsch, Armel Bella-Kotchap, Elvis Rexhbecaj, Milos Pantovic and Sebastian Polter. “They have brought in some good players too. We know one of their new signings well in Kevin Stöger. Philipp Hofmann is a similar type of player to Polter. My counterpart Thomas Reis has stated that he will have to adapt their style of play somewhat to their new squad. We’ll have to wait and see on Saturday. They will remain an experienced, powerful side who are tough tackling and look to use their pace up front,” commented Svensson.
Take on the fight
Mainz experienced first-hand last term just how tough it can be to play in Bochum. After losing away at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion in the league, they were then knocked out at the same location in the DFB-Pokal. “We will need to make sure that we dominate even during those moments where their fans are behind them, and when the game isn’t going our way,” said Svensson. The coach is looking forward to the atmosphere in Bochum, and is expecting his team to “Take on the fight right from the start and to win those decisive battles in order to control the game.”
New signings Danny da Costa and Niklas Tauer will both miss the opening weekend of Bundesliga action. Da Costa completed parts of team training this week, but will not be fit enough to feature against Bochum. Tauer is meant to return to team training next week.
Due to the hot weather on Thursday, the team’s public training session was moved to earlier in the day. The coaching staff are keeping a close eye on the forecast, according to Svensson: “We’ve adjusted our sessions because it’s extremely hot right now. You can’t be out on the pitch in the sun for too long. If you’re doing an intense training session, then it will have an even greater impact on your muscles in this heat. We’re keeping a close eye on the situation.”
Solid at the back, variable up front
When asked about new signing Leitsch, who will make his Bundesliga debut for the Zerofivers against his former club on Saturday, Svensson said that the centre-back is on the right path, even though he’s only been in Mainz a short time. “He’s very eager to learn, asks a lot of questions and then implements what he’s taught,” he said. “He’s already well integrated in the team. The game against Aue only helped make him stronger, because he’s getting a better understanding of what his job is.”
The 43-year-old is confident of what his team are capable of in attack, and is pleased with the new options he has at his disposal, who can help impact a game in different ways. “Jae-sung Lee gives us new options in defensive midfield with his creativity, especially on the ball. He’s variable and will help us, as long as he can play in a central role. I was very happy with his performance in Aue,” Svensson said. It seems highly likely that the South Korean will feature as a number six on Saturday afternoon.