Latza: “Don’t write us off“
The Mainz midfielder expects a top performance in what should be an exciting home game against Borussia Dortmund. After a long absence due to injury, the 28-year-old has made an impressive return.
Almost exactly six months ago, Danny Latza sustained his long-term injury. Since then, the German midfielder has competed in four Bundesliga games for his team and is one of the main reasons for Mainz’s current good run of form.
This momentum and self-confidence after two wins in a row should now inspire the team in their big match on Saturday (KO 15:30 CET) in the OPEL ARENA, although the defined roles of the Bundesliga leaders is clear. "Nobody expects us to beat them. We have nothing to lose, we can only try and win,” says Latza, ahead of the exciting clash with Borussia Dortmund.
In the 3-1 victory in Freiburg before the international break, the midfielder returned to the pitch for the first time this season since his comeback. It was definitely a good feeling after such a long break, forced by a lengthy injury. "At the end of the game, there is always a phase when you realize your strength is dwindling. But that's fine considering the result – it’s nice. Every minute I'm on the field is doing me good right now. I think there is more to come," says the Mainz player, who was forced to sit out after the Augsburg game back in April because of problems in his abdominal area, hence missing the end of last season as well as the first seven games this season. An incision was found in an MRI test. "The doc told me it could take six weeks to heal. I took it with me into the summer break and thought that I could then rejoin the squad. It was not like that. I kept having problems and I tried to get over it, but it did not get better,” says Latza. Another examination revealed that the German also had a hernia, which had to be healed through surgery. "It’s got steadily better since."
"We’re complementing each other really well at the moment"
Sandro Schwarz recently praised the 28-year-old's game. "Danny is playing very well again after his injury. He has always been able to run a lot, but currently he’s holding onto the ball well, always running deep and creating a goal threat."
Latza explains that he’s trying to make it easier for himself. "If it continues the way it currently is, self-confidence will naturally follow. We even played well in the games that we did not win. I think that's how you get into a routine, into a rhythm, by daring to do something and seeing what it feels like. I think we’re complementing each other really well at the moment. If you can see that it’s working for your teammates, then you do the same thing yourself, and you enjoy it more. You keep going, even if it doesn’t quite work out sometimes.” Recently, the team has been rewarded for their performances and for their big efforts.
However, Dortmund will come to the OPEL ARENA as clear favourites. The league leaders impressed before the international break in their 3-2 win against Bayern, and are still unbeaten away. "We watched the Bayern match on the bus back from Freiburg. They were really strong,” says Latza. “It’s going to be really difficult - it will be the hardest game of the season. But we’re playing at home, so we want to keep the same rhythm that we have done in recent weeks so courageously. Our defensive work must be good, our runs both off and on the ball must be on point, and we’ve got to adapt well defensively. We have to take advantage of the opportunities offered by our opponents, like we did in Freiburg. Then we hope we can to at least claim a point.”
Joy as an outsider
Sandro Schwarz will certainly be showing his players pictures of last season’s victory in Dortmund ahead of Saturday’s home game, highlighting the way in which the team won 2-1 to ensure their Bundesliga status. "Nobody fancied us to win. We’ll have to try and rediscover such joy as an outsider,” says Latza. “Don’t write us off.”