Offensive power from the academy
Burkardt, Baku, Eyibil, Schönfelder: Ten of the 12 goals in the first friendly came from the Mainz youth players.
The first official game in pre-season ended with a brilliant result. The Bundesliga team, playing in front of 1265 fans at Bruchweg, lined-up against FuPa Allstars Rheinhessen. Thanks to a prolific second half, a 2-0 half-time lead eventually became a 12-0 win for Sandro Schwarz’s young side. “Ten goals in one half is pretty good,” said the Mainz coach. “A good result in the first pre-season game – everything’s looking nice.”
Oliver Schmitt, former Mainz player and centre-forward for the opposition, who was made up of amateur players from the region and were dangerous at moments before the break, did not know the exact cause of the enormous score-line - perhaps the many changes from the Allstars, who seemed to start with their best 11. Or maybe the maturity, class and ability from players like Jean-Paul Boëtius, Ridle Baku or Jonathan Burkardt in attack. In any case, the second half saw the FuPa selection quickly fall to the Zerofiver’s offensive play. No sooner had Burkardt started and suddenly the player had two goals in the net. In the end, Burkardt managed three goals, as did Baku and Erkan Eyibil from the U19 side, who had been training with the first team since last season.
Calmness in finishing
They were not hit-and-hope style strikes, but instead well-worked plays put together through good technical ability. The powerful offensive game, especially from Boëtius and Baku, was very well utilised. “There was a lot of movement in our game during the second half, a very good depth in play and a lot of calmness in the finishing,” praised Schwarz. You could especially see that aforementioned technical ability from Burkardt and Eyibil, who were able to find the right pass in tight space. “With Ridle I’m glad he has had such a good debut in pre-season,” said the Mainz coach. Boëtius nabbed the tenth goal in that half, reflecting what the team has been focusing on in the week in terms of gegenpressing, chain reactions, technique and precision.
“In the first half we had a lot of U19 players. The fact that we didn’t score so many goals during that period is completely normal. We had a lot of scoring chances and were unlucky to only go in 2-0 up at the break.” Oscar Schönfeld opened the scoring, while Dong-Won Ji got the second. The newcomer was back in action after two days out of training and was used as a 10 in a diamond, looking to get his rhythm right. “Like everyone else in the first half, it was a bit too imprecise from him, but he scored his goal,” said Schwarz, who was also very pleased with Ronaël Pierre-Gabriel, his new right-back option. “With Ronny you can see that he is a very good defensive player – nimble, powerful and also very good with playful elements.”
Youngsters with a future
The most exciting player in the first half, however, was the 18-year-old Schönfelder, who ran out alongside Cyrill Akono as both academy players featured in the match. The attacker could have easily grabbed three goals. It was also interesting to see how 16-year-old Paul Nebel, who previously played at U17 level, would get on in this side, with his technical ability and speed. The same went for Niklas Tauer, who presented himself as a good No. 6. Niklas Kölle, Alessia Curic and Merveille Paüula all made good impressions as academy players. “They did well, it’s good for the young players and it’s good for us as a group,” said Schwarz, adding, “Everyone who trains with us gets their time in friendlies. It’s up to the boys to show us what they are capable of, and trust that we will stick with them, but they also need the necessary patience. That’s how it goes. Then they will have all the possibilities in the world.”
Karim Onisiwo, Leandro Barreiro and Alex Maxim will be back in training on Monday, with new signings Edimilson Fernandes arriving on Wednesday. Then in the evening, the next friendly is at 18:30 CEST in Nentershausen at the Sportfreunde Eisbachtal.