One more strong performance to finish the season
Following the impressive 2-0 derby win in Frankfurt, the 05ers want to carry that winning feeling to their final home match against Hoffenheim – Schwarz: “Opportunity to secure 22 Rückrunde points”
Six and a half years of away derby heartache are over for 1. FSV Mainz 05. “We have experienced moments here today in which we were came together like vilified boys. That was was an important and positive experience for us today. We are proud to have given such a strong performance at this late stage of the season,” said 05ers sporting director Rouven Schröder following the 2-0 derby win away against Eintracht Frankfurt on the penultimate matchday of the season. “We’ve shown that we can play good football. You saw that we were able to win the match and continue to persevere to secure good results right up until the final matchday. You have to give a big compliment to the team. We’re looking forward to our final home match of the season.” Mainz will conclude the 2018/19 Bundesliga season at home to TSG Hoffenheim next Saturday (15:30 CEST).
After this richly deserved victory in the Commerzbank Arena, the 05ers deserved plenty of praise as they didn’t put their foot off the gas knowing that Bundesliga survival was already guaranteed. Instead, the visitors showed a lot of ambition and a strong mentality as they look to exceed further expectations this season. This was certainly the case against local neighbours Eintracht Frankfurt, who were hoping to respond positively to their heartbreaking Europa League semi-final defeat on penalties to Chelsea on Thursday night. Ahead of the Rhine-Main derby, Schwarz made it clear that Mainz’s motivation wasn’t stemming from what happened in mid-week. Instead, the 05ers head coach wanted his young side to show their own ambition and to satisfy their own expectations on the pitch. This was another case of Schwarz’s young side continuing to develop in tough matches such as a derby.
Sympathy for Frankfurt’s heartbreaking Europa League defeat
“Of course we have sympathy for the heartbreak Eintracht have suffered this week because their performances in Europe this season have been exceptional,” said Schwarz after Anthony Ujah’s brace secured Mainz’s first win in Frankfurt since November 2012. “We now aspire to repeat what we did well today when we face Hoffenheim next weeked.”
Mainz have 40 points on the board after 33 games. "That's a good feeling," said the boss. "Also that we've beaten a top eight side for the first time. We now have the opportunity to end up with 22 points from the Rückrunde, and we got 21 in the Hinrunde. We'll throw everything at it again on Saturday."
You could see the ambition of the team right from the beginning against Frankfurt. Schwarz went with Kunde Malong in defensive midfield in a diamond, with Jean-Philippe Gbamin at the tip. Kunde had one of his best games for Mainz. "He was an important factor with his mentality. Because of his calmness and his structure when passing, we chose to go with him in defensive midfield. We also wanted the opportunity to make runs from attacking midfield," added Schwarz. Eintracht couldn't switch play how they usually do, and Mainz defended strongly. The hosts only really had one big chance in the whole game, through Ante Rebic (18') after a counter attack. There was also a period of pressure towards the end of the game during which Florian Müller had to make three saves.
Match-winner Tony Ujah
The Zerofivers came into the game with great intensity, prepared to make plenty of tackles and cover ground as they took a firm hold of the match. They beleaguered Franfkurt as the second half wore on, and Anthony Ujah capitalised on this pressure by scoring a brace. The striker gave Mainz the lead in the 53rd minute, volleying home after Jean-Philippe Mateta's brilliant layoff. It took just four minutes for the 28-year-old to double his tally for the game, firing home past multiple defenders after excellent service from Gbamin on the right flank. The Zerofivers pressed on in the hunt for a third goal, but missed out on extending their lead despite numerous opportunities and counter attacks.
The match-winner was brought back into the starting XI after Robin Quaison took a knock in final training and was subsequently ruled out of Sunday's game. "Tony trained well multiple times and was a force in front of goal. His goals today are the reward for his attitude and hard work," said Schwarz, praising the striker. "I'm over the moon for Tony. He's had to put numerous setbacks behind him. It's no coincidence that he's stepped into such an important game and scored goals." Since Ujah has such a great affinity with the team, he seems to have a high sense of responsibility for what happens off the pitch and makes sure to always give his all in training. "He's very open with people and helps others regardless of whether he's playing or not, which I find outstanding. The lads all have a very high opinion of him due to his social skills," said Schwarz.