Schwarz: “Dortmund will come out strong”
“This is our chance to show what we can do in a big match in front of a wide audience.”
It’s back to business as usual for Mainz 05 as their spectacular 5-0 win against SC Freiburg last Friday becomes just another good memory from this season. Just like their first-ever away win against Borussia Dortmund at the end of last season, which helped Sandro Schwarz’s squad secure their place in the Bundesliga for another year. The memory of that 2-1 win, together with the recent 5-0 victory has given the team a sense of confidence. But, “we can’t go into Dortmund feeling superior, if we do that then we are sure to lose,” the Mainz 05 head coach said in advance of their match on Saturday night (18:30 CEST) in the Signal Iduna Park.
As matchday 29 approaches, Mainz has a chance to influence the title race, as just one point separates FC Bayern München from Dortmund. But, that’s not a priority for Schwarz. “The title race is none of our concern. Obviously there’s a lot of focus on this game, with everyone looking to see what Dortmund will do. This is our chance to show what we can do in a big match in front of a wide audience. We’re going there to play for us, for our club, and our fans. The challenge for us will be to show what we can do,” the 40-year-old said.
Mainz not dwelling on the past
Despite being able to pick up a key three points in Dortmund last season, Mainz is “not dwelling on the past.” What matters is showing what the team can do, especially “our way of playing. It’s the third match since the international break. We played well against Freiburg but now we have higher expectations for ourselves.”
Video analysis of the details of last Friday’s match clearly showed what was obvious to those watching. Freiburg started with a strong formation and positioning, which made things difficult for Mainz. “We were a little unsure when we had the ball, and looked nervous and jittery, which led to us losing possession,” Schwarz said. But, things changed after a shift in Mainz’s tactics, as well as a misplayed pass from Freiburg’s keeper that Jean-Paul Boëtius pounced on to make it 1-0.
“The team has always reacted well to tactical changes and our biggest strength in that game was the way that we shifted our focus, the way we used our speed to create chances in front of the net. That was really good. Our tempo, movement, presence in the box, the accuracy of our passes was outstanding. We marched our way straight up the field into the other half.” What Schwarz was most pleased with is that these positives came in the wake of multiple losses and that his side stood strong against Freiburg. “Those kinds of games help you grow. The fact that we ran more than our opponents was also a key factor. You have to take advantage of every little thing.”
Their success against a strong Freiburg side was good practice ahead of the match against Borussia Dortmund. “We can’t assume that we will be able to have a lot of possession in Dortmund. We will need those simple things like a being quick on the counter, and moving forward efficiently,” said the Mainz coach, who knows what his side can expect to face. “Dortmund will come out strong. Saturday evening, an important game—they will be looking to turn things around for themselves. It will be a difficult task for us as they’ll have the support of 80,000 fans behind them,” Schwarz said. “There are still six games left that count towards the title race, so they can still achieve something big. We have to understand that but we still want to go in and make an impact.”