Pros 22.03.2022 — 14:53 Uhr

Promoting ourselves on and off the pitch

The Zerofivers produced a home performance at the weekend that will live long in the memory. The gaffer’s feet, however, remain firmly on the ground and he believes that his team still has a long way to go if it is to reach its goal.

Not for this first time this season, Svensson's side showcased the Mainz style of play in their win over Arminia

There was a certain feel-good factor surrounding Mainz’s match with Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday, which seemed to carry on throughout the afternoon. Before the game even kicked off, all of the pieces for a great day of football were in place. There were plenty of activities taking place outside the stadium, fans were collecting donations to support families affected by the conflict in Ukraine and the sun was shining over the MEWA ARENA. What came after the build-up was a fast and furious Mainz performance which set the stadium alight and generated a raucous atmosphere that continued after the final whistle. It was an afternoon that will be remembered for a long time and will be seen as a benchmark for Mainz in the future.

On Saturday evening, over an hour after Bo Svensson’s side’s electric performance against Arminia Bielefeld, a large group of fans crowded the exit in anticipation of the Mainz players and coaching staff. The crowd was so big that the journalists who covered the game had to leave the stadium via a different exit. Despite the rousing reception the players received after the final whistle, the fans waited patiently after the game as they were desperate to show their team how much their performance meant to them. Despite all the adversity that the team has had to overcome in the last few weeks, and the problems that coronavirus has caused the squad, the players have done their club proud and have been a great advert for 1. FSV Mainz 05.

Just like the old days at the Bruchweg

The busy week began with a bitter and undeserved 1-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund, but ended with a stunning victory over Arminia, representing a development that has not been seen in recent years. The MEWA ARENA was sold-out on both occasions, with more than 25,000 fans in attendance. In both games, the Mainz fans created an atmosphere that has not been seen for a long time. They honoured their team’s style of play, their selfless attitude and their “all for one and one for all” ethos. It was reminiscent of the performances at the Bruchweg during club’s first years in the Bundesliga and it underlines the philosophy that Svensson has sought to implement during his spell in charge.

The full-throttle football that Svensson’s side plays has made the team as popular as ever in the city and people are desperate to come to the stadium to watch their club. “I thought it was incredible to have two full home games under these conditions in three days. Such a great atmosphere before the game, after the game, during the game – whether we win or lose. When we arrived with the team bus yesterday, there were so many fans here – I have never experienced anything like that as a coach. That gave the players and all of us even more energy, it gave us that extra push,” said the 42-year-old after the 4-0 victory. He continued: “This was no normal game of football, it was a proper Mainz 05 home match. After the game, we went back out to the pitch and soaked it up with all of the delighted fans, and we were just as excited by that excitement. Our fans take normal Bundesliga games and turn them into something special. That has made me extremely happy. The three points are obviously amazing, but there is something else that is even more important, and that is to be connected with the club and be aware of what we stand for.”

Football has the ability to shape a city and capture people’s support for the club

The former centre-half is always keen to point out that he wants to bring forward his own philosophy and he wants to implement what he stands for. “Football has the ability to shape a city and capture people’s support for the club,” he once said in an interview. The way Mainz are playing this season, especially at home, encapsulates this.

When asked in the post-match press conference whether his side’s 37 points is enough to keep them in the division, he remained cautious: “It could be. The group and I have not formulated a specific target. Our goal has always been to put in good performances on the pitch. The list of our goals is so long but mere survival was not at the top of mine,” stressed the gaffer. He added: “That is not meant to come across as arrogant. We just don’t occupy ourselves with thoughts of a relegation battle.”

Development a priority

For Svensson, the idea of the collective is the most important thing and it should be a part of how the team performs both in training and in a match. The former youth coach wants to continue to develop his players and make them better step-by-step. An example of one such player is Jonathan Burkardt, who ended his goal drought with a brace against Bielefeld. Another example is Anton Stach, whose potential has not been lost on Germany head coach, Hansi Flick, and the 23-year-old earned first call up to the national team last week. The team’s physicality, tactical nous, individual talent and overall style of play has won over its audience.

“I only see our style as a positive,” stressed the Dane in another media interview. “Working around the things that don’t suit Mainz 05. The approach must always be to get the most out of our players, no matter what the situation. This way is the most fun and you become average if you don’t give it full gas. We don’t want this.”

Taking the strong home form on the road

For the coach, a football DNA is based on a style of play and a philosophy. Also included in this is establishing a strong working environment at the Bruchweg. “The culture within the group, within the dressing room and within the whole club. In the end, this is what sustains the club and will ensure that Mainz can remain as Mainz even if we don’t have 57 points on the board,” said Svensson.

At least eight Mainz players are currently away with their respective national teams. The rest are continuing their hard work at the Bruchweg in preparation for their next league match. The busy schedule after the international break will begin with an away game in Mönchengladbach, followed by the rearranged fixture against FC Augsburg, then a trip to FC Köln. Svensson’s side will be looking to replicate their strong home form in their away matches after the break.