"It was very important for our group that we got off to a good start”
Onisiwo bags a brace in Bochum on the opening day of the Bundesliga: FSV pick up their first away win of the season on Matchday 1
The opening weekend of the 2022/23 Bundesliga season saw 1. FSV Mainz 05 pick up an away win on Matchday 1: this is the first time the Zerofivers have ever began a season in the top flight with a victory on the road, having never achieved this in their 16 previous Bundesliga campaigns. Therefore, yesterday’s 2-1 win in front of 24,000 away at VfL Bochum could be a sign that Bo Svensson’s side are working hard to shake off what was one of their weak points of the previous season and to improve on their record of having the second-worst away record in the league in 2021/22. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but picking up three points gives you a good boost and we know what we need to improve on. It’s a very good position for the coach to be in,” commented Martin Schmidt after full time. “The work doesn’t stop here, but three points on the road certainly gives you a real push going into the new season.”
Bo Svensson’s reaction to hearing referee Felix Zwayer blow the final whistle after seven minutes of second-half stoppage time clearly showed that the Zerofivers head coach is on a similar wavelength to our sporting director, as the 43-year-old let out a scream of joy at the very top of his voice following the away triumph. The signs of relief on the face of the Dane, who was in fact only satisfied with a few aspects of his side’s performance, were very evident. “As expected, I found it to be a tough match,” explained the head coach at his post-match press conference. “Bochum got off to a brighter start and were the better side for the first 20 minutes. After we scored, our performance started to improve, and we created some huge chances. We probably ought to have added a second, but then they equalised through Stöger. Not too much happened in the second half – we were too passive, Bochum had a lot of the ball, but they didn’t create too many clear-cut chances. We then found a winner from a set piece. It was very important for our group that we got off to a good start, but it’s also clear to us that we need to play better and play a more active role in our matches,” summarised the head coach.
Mainz didn’t make a great start to the game and found it difficult to play around Bochum’s strong press. The hosts applied more pressure, were more structured in their attacks and had the best opportunity to take the lead through Gerrit Holtmann, whose first-time effort was kept out in terrific fashion by Robin Zentner. Bochum were then appealing for a penalty a few minutes later, as Simon Zoller headed the ball into the chest of former Bochum player Maxim Leitsch. The ball subsequently struck the arm of the centre-back, which led to referee Zwayer consulting a video replay before ultimately awarding a corner to the home side.
It’s also clear to us that we need to play better and play a more active role in our matches.
The pattern of the game then suddenly turned completely on its head, beginning with a spectacular pass from Angelo Fulgini, who came into the starting line-up for the injured Jonathan Burkardt. The Frenchman played a fine ball through to Anton Stach, and his shot was initially saved by Manuel Riemann, before it eventually fell to the feet of Stefan Bell. The centre-back then shipped it to Edimilson Fernandes, who came in at right-back for Silvan Widmer. Fernandes put in a measured cross for Karim Onisiwo, who was in plenty of space and able to head it in to make it 1-0 to the Zerofivers.
Converting the two most difficult chances
The Zerofivers then really started to get into their groove. Dominik Kohr forced a good save out of Riemann, who then did well to keep out Stach on the rebound. Onisiwo then failed to get a solid contact on Lee’s cross, and the Austria international then missed a one-on-one after getting on the end of Stach’s long ball, who then went on to save the next Mainz attempt from Fernandes. “After Mainz scored their first, we were very lucky to have not conceded a second and third soon after. We were able to get back into the game via a long-range effort, regardless of whether or not it was intentional,” explained Bochum head coach Thomas Reis. Kevin Stöger’s cross-cum-shot beat Robin Zentner in the Mainz goal, sailing into the far corner and levelling the scores at 1-1, ending a period during which Mainz had dominated proceedings, breaking up the rhythm of their play once again. “You could tell it affected us,” said sporting director Schmidt. “We weren’t winning any of the second balls, and our long passes were just picking out opposing players. The hosts pushed us back but didn’t manage to create any big chances. However, they were very much in control of things and our attacking play started to get really sloppy,” he analysed. However, the Zerofivers eventually came up with the goods. Stach whipped in a corner from the left-hand side which went all the way to the back post. Onisiwo reacted the quickest, headed it into the left corner and scored the decisive goal.
“It’s definitely good for a player to score a brace, but I actually think that he put away the two most difficult chances he got on the day,” Svensson commented on the performance of the matchwinner, Karim Onisiwo. “It’ll do him some good. He’s an important player for us, not just because of the goals he scores but also because of what he does in open play. He’s an experienced player who needs to take on his responsibilities.” The team were really hoping to improve on their away record from last season and have now began the season with two away victories, emphasised Onisiwo. “A brace is a good way for a striker to start. I played a lot of games last season and didn’t score too many goals. I need to get into a good run of form and would also like to make that happen myself. When you’re on a streak, the goals come easier.” Bochum’s head coach was frustrated with the manner in which his side lost the match: “I’m incredibly angry that we lost it at a set piece, given that we have clear instructions as to who covers what space.”
Schmidt: Not a stolen, but a deserved victory
His team got a lucky at the right time and that led to them winning the game, explained the FSV head coach. “Bochum didn’t punish us when we were too passive in the second half, and we scored a winner from a corner. I’m happy with the goal from the corner because we work on them a lot. We actually should have scored more when we were on top and put the game to bed, but that’s often the case for us. We need to be more ruthless in deciding games earlier on, especially when we get such good goal-scoring chances.” However, it was agreed that all in all, it was a deserved victory and, in the words of Martin Schmidt, wasn’t a “stolen victory”. “Over the course of the entire game, we had the biggest and best chances.”
Maxim Leitsch was pleased to win on debut against his former employers. “My heart was beating a little faster than it does for other games. On the one hand, I want to do well in my first league game for a new club, on the other hand, it’s always special to play against your former side. Of course, it’s great that we picked up three points. It’s better when you play well, but the most important thing is the result."
Welcoming Union Berlin to the MEWA ARENA next Sunday
The Zerofivers’ next match is at home to Union Berlin on Sunday 14th August (15:30 CEST).