Pros 07.02.2019 — 17:01 Uhr

Silly on the outside, serious on the inside

The Zerofivers will play in their colourful carnival kit as they take on Bayer Leverkusen at the Opel Arena on Friday evening – Schwarz: “trust ourselves to put in a good performance”

On matchday 21 of the Bundesliga season, Mainz 05 have the chance to bounce back from their 3-0 defeat in Augsburg last week. The head coach underlined the importance of the game with a clear statement: “We are looking forward to the home game want to create a different feeling on the pitch compared to how we were last week.” They will at least visually be different as the Zerofivers will be wearing their very colourful carnival kit as they take on Bayer 04 Leverkusen at the Opel Arena on Friday evening (20:30 CET). “It’s the fifth year in a row that we are doing this in Mainz,” said Sandro Schwarz in the press conference prior to the game. “We don’t want to give a carnival-like vibe on the pitch though, we will be very serious.”

 The recent loss has not affected their position in the table, as they are still level on points with Werder Bremen (27 points) in the middle of the table. Leverkusen beat Bayern München at home on the weekend and rose above Mainz in the table (now on 30 points, seventh place). However, Leverkusen are travelling to the Opel Arena fresh off a defeat in the DFB-Pokal to 2. Bundesliga side, 1. FC Heidenheim.

Recognisable plan

“That comes naturally by analysing the game,” said Sandro Schwarz. “The results show that there is no correlation between our preparation and the results we get. We obviously know it will be a different team on Friday. It is not the main theme for Friday.” The Zerofiver’s coach knows about the undisputed quality within the Leverkusen ranks. Bayer Leverkusen have a lot of force and momentum going forward, lots of individual quality, and are a strong team mentally. The coaching team have analysed recently how Peter Bosz’s Borussia Dortmund team used to play, as he is the new manager of Bayer 04 Leverkusen. “You know his game plan. We're expecting them to be very active, but we will put them under pressure,” said Schwarz. For the home side, it will be very important to defend well and to be active not passive. “We want to keep hold of the ball when we have it and try to build attacks and create goalscoring chances ourselves,” said Schwarz. It will be a very important factor, as Leverkusen are very good on the counter.

In the current training week, the Zerofivers have had some very diverse training sessions. They have been practising their work off the ball, their pressing and minimising the opponent’s room on the field. “We need to be active, press the ball well and not give them space to run into,” said the Zerofiver’s coach. “There will be many phases in this game. We need to give the right answers and find solutions. It will be a difficult game, but I trust my players to put in a good enough performance, to play good football and get a result.”

Variation in defence and midfield

There are still some doubts for the weekend. What is definite however, is that Danny Latza will not be available after suffering a concussion in last week’s game. Jean-Philippe Gbamin has been suffering from a stomach bug in recent days and so is still a doubt. Stefan Bell is back from suspension and will be back in the defence.

“With Bello, Alexander Hack and Moussa Niakhaté, three strong defenders,” said Schwarz. If we want to play all three at the same time, we will either play Niakhaté at left-back, pushing up Aaron Martin into the midfield or the wing. We can also play with three at the back,” explained Schwarz. It all depends on how the midfield lines up. “We have many ideas available,” said the Zerofiver’s coach, who will wait to decide until after the final training session.