Schwarz: We performed well for 160 of the 180 minutes
The 05ers head coach gives his positive thoughts on the two friendly victories against FC Metz on Saturday afternoon: “We’re able to consistently perform at a high level.”
A week ahead of their opening competitive match of the 2019/20 season, a trip to Kaiserslautern in the DFB-Pokal first round, 1. FSV Mainz 05 have secured two victories in their final warm up matches. Sandro Schwarz’s side were split in half and defeated newly promoted French Ligue 1 side FC Metz 1-0 twice on Saturday in the Alsace town of Molsheim near Strasbourg. Karim Onisiwo scored the only goal of the opening friendly before Levin Öztunali scored in the second fixture. “Two victories, two clean sheets and we performed well in 160 of the 180 minutes,” said Schwarz reflecting on the friendlies against the French side.
The 40 year-old only showed some elements of dissatisfaction at the start of the second half of the first friendly. “This was the only poor period we went through in each of the four halves we played on Saturday. At that point, we weren’t as dynamic, instead playing a somewhat lethargic style of play and didn’t work hard enough when not in possession,” criticised Schwarz. Metz had failed to create hardly any chances in the first half but striker Habib Diallo, who scored 26 goals to help fire the Lorraine club to promotion last season, was denied on several occasions firstly by Florian Müller and then by substitute goalkeeper Finn Dahmen.
05ers playing without attackers Quaison and Burkardt
“Overall, we have responded well to the illnesses and injuries sustained so far this pre-season and we have found a structure to which we can connect with again,” stressed Schwarz. Robin Quaison didn’t travel to France for the friendlies on Saturday, instead staying in Mainz due to muscle problems. “This is simply a precautionary measure,” explained Schwarz. The same caution was applied to Jonathan Burkardt who missed the friendlies due to the flu. The 05ers were therefore missing two more strikers in the Metz friendlies.
“We have to find a logical solution,” said the coach who is approaching the club’s situation in a professional manner. “I have to think about what I can improve and my job is to bring the best team onto the pitch as possible based on the players I have available following the final training session.”
It appeared that Schwarz chose to play an A team and a B team on Saturday. Mainz opted for a 4-3-2-1 formation in the opening friendly which saw Ridle Baku, Edimilson Fernandes and Danny Latza sit in front of a back four which was the quartet that started the majority of last season. Alexandru Maxim and Jean-Paul Boëtius played in attacking midfield roles just behind Karim Onisiwo who played as a lone striker. The team relied upon dominating possession whilst also creating lots of chances based on good attacking build-up play. Schwarz praised his side for making the ball do the work, their positional play as well as runs in behind the opposition defence. His only other criticism: “We could’ve scored even more goals.” Onisiwo, who was the only player to get on the scoresheet, missed two more clear-cut opportunities to score while Latza went close and Daniel Brosinski fired a free-kick onto the woodwork. Eventually, Onisiwo got his goal after good build-up play from Latza to unlock the Metz defence and play in the attacker.
4-2-3-1 formation used in second friendly
“However, we played well in our second friendly too,” said the Mainz 05 head coach. Schwarz field a younger and more inexperienced side for the second friendly but Robin Zentner provided stability in goal while Alex Hack led the back four. Levin Öztunali returned to play in attacking midfield who Kunde Malong played for 45 minutes. “The players played well and the coaching team deserve some credit for the performance,” said Schwarz. The second Mainz team played in a 4-2-3-1 formation again opting for a lone striker which was Cyrill Akono on this occasion. “The change in formation on this occasion shows our flexibility and the fact our style of play works regardless of the formation we operate,” explained Schwarz. An impressive solo run from Öztunali saw the Germany U21s international beat multiple defenders before firing the ball just under the crossbar to give Mainz a 1-0 victory. The 05ers defeated a spirited Metz side who also had their chances to score.
“The best thing we have learnt today is that we were able to use two new formations and were still able to find success with them,” said Schwarz. “If we believe in our principles and style of play, if we defend actively, then we can be successful regardless of the formation we choose to play. We are developing well as a team. We have to believe in our structure, we have to believe in our style of football. We are in the position where we can consistently play at a high level. That is what I will be taking out of this pre-season,” explained the head coach. “The quality we possess and our performance will only not be enough to win matches if we don’t bring as much energy and desire to work on the pitch for the new season.”