Schwarz: “We want to record a lot of shots on goal“
Mainz want to avoid the mistakes of the reverse fixture and get a good result against a Gladbach side who are strong on the counter.
Monday’s Karneval celebrations provided the Mainz squad with a short but sweet break, organised as a team building exercise by head coach Sandro Schwarz. The squad will no doubt feel even more motivated and a greater sense of team spirit as the season enters the final third. The Zerofivers face fourth placed Borussia Mönchengladbach this weekend in front of an expected crowd of around 30,000 supporters. “We’re looking forward to this game in front of our own fans and want to get back on the right track,” said Schwarz ahead of the game on Saturday evening.
Whilst Mainz fell to a frustrating defeat in Berlin last weekend and can be rightly annoyed not to have taken something away from the game, this weekend’s visitors suffered a heavy 5-1 home defeat at the hands of FC Bayern. Dieter Hecking’s men, who had enjoyed consistency in the first half of the season, are currently undergoing an unwanted run of form: the defeat against Bayern was their third in their last three home games, following 3-0 losses to VfL Wolfsburg and Hertha BSC. “The biggest mistake we can make is to take them for granted because of their home record, because they’ve had some good results on the road: 1-0 in Leverkusen, 2-0 against Schalke and a 1-1 draw in Frankfurt,” said Schwarz.
“We need to defend set pieces better”
“They are strong away from home, and very dangerous on the counter. They have a lot of quality players – we know this from the reverse fixture, when we fell into the trap of allowing them too much space and sitting too deep,” said Schwarz. In the first half of the season, Schwarz’ men fell to a 4-0 defeat against Gladbach, which was the heaviest loss in the history of the fixture. The Zerofivers started the game well, but “lost our way somewhat” in the words of the coach. “Gladbach were then in the position to take advantage ruthlessly.”
On how Gladbach’s counter attack can be dealt with, Schwarz exclaimed, “A lot of shots on goal would help, and starting attacks in the final third that end in shots on goal. I want us to be effective in defence when out of possession, press high up the field, and be well organized, and of course, we don’t want to get caught on the counter attack.” Therefore, starting the game well and in an organized manner is essential. “We also need to defend opposition set pieces better,” said the 40-year-old. The home game should nonetheless be a tough task against an opponent with their own style of play.
Changes to the starting lineup?
“We need to adjust accordingly. We can’t make hte mistake of only focusing on our game when in possession. We do need to improve in the following areas: we need to work hard when we’re off the ball, be aggressive in challenges just like we were against Schalke, be passionate and be tactically smart,” explained the head coach. “If the opposition allows us space and possession, we have to be take advantage of it and be direct in our attack.”
Mainz will be benefitted by the return of a number of players. Daniel Brosinski, who missed the last two matches due to illness, has completed a full week of training and will hope to return to the team. Schwarz will decide later in the week whether the 30-year-old will replace Giulio Donati, who has covered the number two position in his absence. Jean-Paul Boëtius also returns from suspension and is available again. Robin Quaison replaced the Dutchman in the number ten role for the game in Berlin. “Boëtius is strong in his position when the team is in and out of possession. This role demands a lot of movement and you need to be near the ball often. In possession it requires movements to beat your man and make runs from deep into the box. He also recovers the ball very often. Robin also did well out of possession. He worked hard when we were not in possession. We will have to see who we choose to go with on Saturday,” said the 05ers head coach.
Karim Onisiwo and Anthony Ujah started in attack in Berlin last weekend while Jean-Philippe Mateta came off the bench. Both Onisiwo and Ujah were unfortunate not to score last weekend, both seeing headers strike the crossbar. For the head coach however, there is still room for imporvement. “We need to carry on in our efforts to be in the right positions in the box, pick the right passes and be assertive.”