Pros 08.04.2022 — 16:27 Uhr

“It will be a proper game of football”

2,000 Mainz fans are set to travel to Cologne this weekend, for what will be their team’s third away game in six days. Svensson has told his players to expect “one of the best atmospheres in the league.”

Svensson instructing his players in the 1-1 draw against Köln earlier in the season.

Mainz have picked up just a single point from their two away games against Mönchengladbach and Augsburg this week, much to the frustration of coach Bo Svensson. “We deserved more,” said the boss in the press conference ahead of Saturday’s trip to FC Köln (15:30 CEST). However, the Dane is still looking forward to the challenge against a side just two points ahead of FSV in the Bundesliga table: “An exciting task awaits us in Cologne. It will be a proper game of football.”

“We all have to scrutinise ourselves and that includes me,” said Svensson on Friday lunchtime, looking back on a disappointing week, in which Mainz had two away games to contend with. FSV produced unsatisfactory first half performances in both matches and only managed to pick up a single point, which came in a draw away at Gladbach. “The fact is, we started both games badly. We played well in the second half but one good half just doesn’t suffice at this level and this is something we need to realise. It’s not just me who carries the responsibility. The players have also been critical with themselves.” The players have to do what is expected of them tomorrow and make sure they are switched on from the very first whistle, in a game which will be played in front of 50,000 fans. 2,000 Zerofivers are also making trip to Cologne to support their team.

It goes without saying that tomorrow’s task, is for the players to do everything they can to pick up points in the RheinEnergie-Stadion, but the manager is also aware of the intense atmosphere that awaits his team: “FC Köln have one of the best atmospheres in the league but there are 34 games in a season, so if you’re not up for this one, then you’re in the wrong job,” said the 42-year-old.

A near full squad to choose from

However, the coach is not worried that his team will start the game against FC Köln with tired legs. The Thursday after the Augsburg game was used to recuperate and to recover mentally. “We gave the players time to recover yesterday but we will use today get ourselves up for tomorrow’s game. The last two games have given us some important insights. They were games in which we should have picked up more points.” However, the boss is adamant that the lack of points this week isn’t down to the reflexes of Yann Sommer or the mistakes of a referee. “We only look at ourselves,” stressed Svensson, who will have an almost full squad to choose from on Saturday. Only the long-term absentees Jeremiah St. Juste and Delano Burgzorg are unavailable for selection.

We gave the players time to recover.

As well as urging his players to bring their A-game, Svensson also spoke very highly of FC Köln under coach Steffen Baumgart: “Our approach and our way of playing remain the same. Köln will be the toughest task this week. For me, they're the best of the three teams we've played. This says a lot about how well we need to perform tomorrow. They are a very lively team who like to go forward. They have the third-highest average possession per game in the league and have lots of quality all over the pitch. Lots of people love watching them and that is to Steffen’s credit. They also have a terrific set of fans behind them, and all this together is a great combination.”

Expectations backed up by statistics

Saturday’s game has all the makings of a lively affair in front of a full house, which is backed up by the statistics. Both teams are evenly matched in terms of overall intensive runs this season. Mainz are fourth overall with 20,896 and Köln lead the way with 21,154. These stats underline Svensson’s expectation that Saturday’s encounter will be a “proper game of football,” in front of an emotional crowd. The coach made it clear that “it is simply our job” to be ready for the task.