Physicality a key factor
The Zerofivers deliver season-best results in number of runs and sprints against RB Leipzig – Schwarz: Raising the bar once again versus Frankfurt
Just two games remain for the Zerofivers this season: the derby against Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday (18:00 CEST) and a final home game on 18th May against TSG Hoffenheim. Mainz will have a chance to impact both their opponent’s hopes of playing for Europe next season. “We want to deliver a top performance and effort in both games that remain. I’m not really interested in who will make it into the Champions League places, to be honest,” Sandro Schwarz told the media after training on Tuesday.
Mainz are not looking to spoil anything for their opponents—instead, the team want to show what they can do. “Both matches present us with an interesting challenge,” said Schwarz. Especially Sunday’s game against Frankfurt, which was moved in order to accommodate the second leg of Frankfurt’s Europe League semi-final match against Chelsea on Thursday. The anticipation surrounding the match is high amongst the Zerofivers, not only due to the rivalry between the two sides, but also because Mainz have been in-form recently.
“Give it our all to win”
“It’s our last away game of the season,” said the head coach. “We want to raise the bar once again. It’s exciting for us, because Frankfurt still have a lot left to play for. They’re fighting against teams like Leverkusen, Gladbach, Wolfsburg, and Hoffenheim for a place in Europe next season. Frankfurt’s performance in the Europe League this season has been spectacular. But, we want to give it our all right from the start in order to win this match.”
Schwarz can draw on two impressive stats from his side’s match against Leipzig: 269 sprints and 517 high-tempo runs completed. “That’s top-notch from us. Stats like that show that we have quality on the pitch. When we’re playing well, when we’re sprinting and playing with tempo, then we’re able to play the ball forward quickly and are able to put on a good performance. This proves that we’re still in-form at the end of the season, as far as conditioning goes,” said Schwarz. This could prove to be a deciding factor against Frankfurt.
Setting the standard for the matches that remain
After every game, the fitness coaches evaluate the stats and present them to Schwarz. “What matters is the distance we’re running after the ball, when we have possession, and when we’re pushing forwards. That’s how we can recognize how we’re defending when we don’t have possession.” The Zerofivers’ physicality has been good over the past few weeks, and only improved against a speedy Leipzig side.
“We don’t play well if we don’t have that physicality.” The team’s performance against Leipzig will serve as the standard for the games that remain. The training sessions this week have been planned accordingly. The week started with an intense session on Monday, followed by a 1-v-1 tournament in practice on Tuesday. “These first two training sessions were important. They were intense and competitive. But that’s good—it’s what we need. Short drills with maximum effort, as well as scrimmages. Lots of mini-games mean many small competitions,” said Schwarz. The team will have Wednesday off before meeting again on Thursday to prepare for the match in Frankfurt.