Schwarz: “Keep moving forwards“
Mainz‘s next task comes in the form of an away trip to Hannover 96 on Matchday 31.
After a victory over Fortuna Düsseldorf on Easter weekend, head coach Sandro Schwarz has set his side a new objective: a tenth place finish come the end of the season. The first step in achieving the head coach’s goal would be victory over Hannover 96 in Saturday’s (kickoff 15:30 CEST) away game.
“I think it is an objective that provides motivation. I’m not sure how many times Mainz have achieved tenth place or higher in its Bundesliga history,” said the coach as he spoke to the press two days ahead of the match.
The answer is easy: not very often. In fact, the Zerofivers have never achieved tenth place in the top flight. In total, the club have achieved a place above 10th on four occasions: 9th in 2009/10, 5th in 2010/11, 7th in 2013/14 and 6th in 2015/16. In addition to this incentive, Schwarz believes that the club’s remaining fixtures provide motivation. Hannover are a side fighting for survival, whereas the three other opponents are all battling for Champions League places. “I think it is a very ambitious aim, but also the right one,” said Schwarz. “It is a reasonable timeframe to give it everything. It is a test for us to pick up as many points as we can and try and secure 10th place.”
A different atmosphere
The team will want to get off to the best possible start as they face bottom-placed side Hannover. “You can already see in training that the players are raring to go and play football. There was a sense of relaxation and a different atmosphere. The excitement was there but the sense of relaxation was present. Everyone wanted the ball, even under pressure. That is the biggest advantage for us going into Saturday. It will be Hannover’s final chance to try and escape the relegation places – we have to be ready. In addition to all the energy that we need, we also want a sense of composure.”
To avoid giving the wrong impression, Schwarz added: “The fact that we are now safe does not mean we can take our foot off the gas. It means we can now dare to learn more about our games that we’ve won and the goals we’ve scored. The confidence makes us better. We’ve improved going forward and we want to keep it up. We want to win in Hannover.”
Ready for a fight
The Zerofivers and the trainer both know that this game will be the last time Hannover 96 can try to stay up in the Bundesliga and therefore both will be expecting a very aggressive opposition. “When we have the ball, we have to be calm and have fun with it. We need to work off the ball like we have in our past games; be brave like we were against Düsseldorf and press like we did against Dortmund. We want to keep the pressure on because we can get goals from this. We need to work with our principles,” explained Schwarz.
Danny Latza will not be with the team on the weekend as he celebrated becoming a father for the first time on Wednesday. “I have given him some free time to spend with his family. He will rejoin us in training after the game,” said Schwarz. Latza will not train for the rest of the week. Niko Bungert has been training well. Whether he will captain the team on the weekend, is still undecided: “We will have a chat and then see how final training goes. Anything is possible,” said Schwarz.