Pros 18.02.2019 — 15:01 Uhr

Schwarz: "That increases the frustration"

Another contentious penalty decision for Mainz in the 3-0 loss to Wolfsburg, as well as a lacking sense of vigor in attack

An unfortunate game with an early goal and another contentious penalty decision which could be discussed to no end. The team also had “too little power, dynamic and punch in the final third,” said Sandro Schwarz after the 3-0 loss to VfL Wolfsburg at the weekend. In a game where Mainz “didn’t need to lose the game,” the coach spoke about his side’s third loss in a row, where they have conceded 11 goals. “That annoys us a lot and we can’t afford to continue conceding like that.”

Rouven Schröder was rather unimpressed with one of the decisions from the referee after the final whistle on Saturday. “After a 3-0 defeat it sounds like you’re just looking for excuses,” said Schröder. However, the Sporting Director did not agree with the fact that Benjamin Cortus awarded a penalty in the 68th minute for a handball after VAR was used. Wout Weghorst then converted the spot-kick to give Wolfsburg a 2-0 lead.  The Zerofivers conceded their third shortly after, wrapping up the defeat. “In my eyes, it was a fairly 50/50 kind of challenge, so VAR should not have to intervene,” said Schwarz.

Chances weren’t there

“For me, it was the wrong decision. There are clear rules about when VAR can be called into place, namely, if there is the chance of a wrong decision. That was definitely not the case there. You get the feeling that the parameters for what defines a handball will be re-evaluated and redefined week by week. That makes things difficult for everyone and increases the frustration surrounding decisions.” The fact that Cortus didn’t punish Josip Brekalo’s elbowing of Danny Latza, or Coen Casteels challenge on Robin Quaison in the box was agitating. However, it was ultimately the lack of force in attack, as well as a withdrawn sense of control in the game, which resulted in the loss for Mainz. “Despite the penalty to make it 2-0, the result was pretty much final, our chances just weren’t there,” said Schwarz.

The Zerofivers were caught cold “by passivity,” according to the coach. Maximilian Arnold found himself free in the box to culminate a Wolfsburg attack and make it 1-0. “Three goals are a bit annoying but we didn’t just run around after our opponents and allow them to keep coming at us, we had some good possession and moved the ball around nicely. 55% possession away from home – that’s pretty good,” said Schwarz. The team showed no sign of uncertainty after the goals but the side just couldn’t score a goal. “The basic problem,” said the coach, “was our lack of drive in the final third. We were often in dangerous areas, but the last pass wasn’t good enough or consistent enough. We didn’t have enough power to get a goal out of the game and leave us feeling a bit better.”

The first man got stuck

The team had very good movement on the wings. “Then of course you also need to find the pass to release them.” That was the biggest draw-back; we attempted 20 passes to the wings and only found a man four times.” It felt as though the team got stuck on the wings and couldn’t get past the first man. In any case, the team has had better performances offensively this season. They have managed to be more precise and straightforward before.

“We have to get back to those ways. We have to be critical and analyse ourselves,” said Schwarz. “It’s normal for a club to have a slump like this at some point in a season so it’s just a test for us to get out there again. We have to evaluate our game and improve things but we can’t allow ourselves to lose our heads. We don’t have the feeling that everything is going to suddenly break down for us. We have a crystal clear plan in place for how we want to play, depending on the force we have to defend against, and everyone in the team knows that.”