“It’s actually unbelievable”
The Zerofivers dominated the game in Hannover, but didn’t use their chances and ended up with an unexpected 1-0 defeat to the Bundesliga’s bottom side.
There are definitely a few points to discuss about the game. Mainz lost on Matchday 31 against Hannover, the league’s bottom side, who have gained some positive traction in their relegation battle after the game. What was absurd is that Sandro Schwarz’s side dominated the game, played in front of 30,000 fans, but just couldn’t get the ball in the net. “I really can’t believe that we now have to sit here and take that defeat. It’s actually unbelievable and has annoyed us immensely. The fact that we now have to congratulate Hannover really perturbs me,” said the coach after the final whistle.
The annoyance came from an odd turn of events in the 66th minute. Linton Maina was on the counter, Alexander Hack then cleared but the ball was kicked straight to Giulio Donati on the line, who unintentionally kept the ball in play. Florian Müller and Niakhaté then both went for the ball to try and prevent the corner, but ended up getting in each others’ way, with the defender even slightly injured his goalkeeper. The ball then rolled towards the foot of Maina, who slipped it to Hendrik Weydandt, and suddenly it was 1-0. A true comedy goal. “It was my error,” said Müller. “It was an unnecessary action that unfortunately decided the whole game.” His teammates thought differently, however, “If we don’t score then we don’t leave much for ourselves,” said the Mainz coach, “because then we make it difficult for ourselves in front of our own goal.”
Not forceful enough
Hannover 96 only had two other efforts against Mainz. A shot from Jonathas in the opening stages, which missed the target, and right at the end, when Jean-Philippe Mateta was on hand to block a shot. The Zerofivers dictated most of the game and offered a convincing performance. There was just one thing missing to make it a great performance: an offensive output and efficiency, which have been present during the recent home games against Düsseldorf and Freiburg.
There were opportunities for the Zerofivers. “It can sometimes happen that if you’re so dominant in a game that you forget to carry the tempo into the final third. We often tried to snag a goal, with a header or a shot near the goal. Despite the loss we were strong in the game and dominant with our determination. You have to try and score goals, as mundane as that sounds. If you can’t do that, then you have to at least try and prevent goals at your end,” said Schwarz.
Shortly before half-time, the Hannover goalkeeper, Michael Esser, stopped two efforts from Mateta and Robin Quaison. A later effort from Quaison, which did end up in the back of the net, was disallowed after VAR intervention, which suggested that Pirmin Schwegler had been fouled in the lead-up to the goal. “It was the correct decision,” said the coach.
Absolutely no drop in motivation
The current aim, namely to finish in tenth place at the end of the season, hit a road stop during the game in Hannover. However, the Zerofivers showed absolutely no drop in motivation during the game, and were eager and focused. “We haven’t lost ground and we have been hit with an emotional result. We wanted to win this game. You could see that throughout the match. We wanted to play on the front foot and quickly get into our game,” said the 40-year-old.
That resulted in a dominant performance in Hannover, with aggressive runs, pressing and tackles that showed that Mainz were clearly the better footballing side between the two. “We played with a good structure. Our defending was good, we had both Hannover strikers under control,” said the coach. “We should have won the match. When you do things well you just want to be able to park the bus and take the points.”