Svensson: “You need to be at your best in all areas"
The Mainz boss believes there is a great sense of anticipation ahead of Saturday’s clash with the Bundesliga champions at a sold out MEWA ARENA.
For the first time in nearly two years, the MEWA ARENA will be fully sold out. 33,305 fans are expected for the upcoming game against FC Bayern. "There is always a great sense of anticipation ahead of a game against one of the best teams in the world,” said Bo Svensson in a press conference ahead of the match against the Bavarians, who sealed a record tenth straight league title last weekend. “There is technically nothing to play for but I already believe that the spectators will get bang for their buck this weekend,” said the Dane, who encouraged his side to move on from the bitter defeat to Wolfsburg last time out: "We've used our time well and we are looking to improve. We will see on Saturday if it has been constructive."
It goes without saying that the 5-0 thrashing to VfL Wolfsburg last Friday had an effect on the team. The coaching staff and the players, however, have used this week to try and recover from the defeat in Lower Saxony. “I used some choice words because I think we were poor in all areas. The way we played and the mentality we showed wasn’t like us at all,” reflected Svensson. He continued: “Our tactical astuteness at the back is something that usually sets us apart. However, we made some poor mistakes as individuals and as a team.”
"I hope people recognise that the lads have done well this season"
“We’ve done lots of good things as a group over a long period of time. That’s why it was so surprising, not just to me, but to all of us, that this happened,” explained the boss, who was keen to point out that his side have had some impressive moments this season. “You have to put things into perspective. To all of a sudden question everything or suggest that we aren’t doing things right, is something I will not do because we have done well over a long period of time. But of course, the game stands in brackets next to the other performances we have shown,” said Svensson. He continued: “I can understand that people are annoyed that we technically don’t have anything left to play for in the remaining three games. At the same time, I hope people recognise that the lads have done well this season. We are in a league position that was unfathomable 18 months back.”
A home game in a sold out arena. We are up for it.
Mainz, who have already guaranteed their place in the Bundesliga next season, will welcome FC Bayern, who wrapped up their tenth league title in a row last weekend, to the MEWA Arena on Saturday afternoon. However, Svensson insists that the game isn’t just a kick about in the sun. Bayern Munich, under Julian Nagelsmann, will want to finish their season in style and there is a great sense of anticipation ahead of the game against one of the best teams in the world. “We have spoken a lot about the last game. We have to use it as a learning curve even though we played really badly. We now have a home game in a sold out arena. We are up for it. There is technically nothing to play for but I already believe that the spectators will get bang for their buck this weekend,” insisted the Dane. “A great team is coming to town and we need to compete with them. That certainly isn’t uninteresting.”
St. Juste and Lee not quite ready, Hack fully fit
Mainz’s recent performances against Bayern are another reason to look forward to Saturday’s game. In the game in the first half of the season, Mainz put in a brave performance but narrowly lost. However, Svensson’s side ran out 2-1 winners against Bayern the last time the two sides met at the MEWA ARENA, just over 12 months ago. “We have to be at our best in all areas. We played well against them for 90 minutes in the first half of the season. Bayern weren’t quite at their best in the first 45 minutes but we were very good. It was tougher in the second half when they went up a gear. That’s just how it is against them,” warned the boss, who emphasised the tough task that awaits his side. “You need to be at your best in all areas in order to compete.”
Hack is back to full fitness and fully took part in training.
Svensson, however, will not have the full squad at his disposal on Saturday. The good news though is that Jeremiah St. Juste is slowly but surely returning to fitness after a long injury. The Dutchman was able to take part in some parts of team training this week. “Both shoulders are looking okay. He took part in a few exercises and showed his quality right away. Obviously he is coming in off the back of a long period of rehabilitation so we will have to wait and see. It’s great to have a character like him back on the training ground. He is a great player but he also brings a certain aura and a positive attitude. He is important for our team,” said Svensson. It must be said, however, that St. Juste will not be able to feature against Bayern. This also applies to Jae-Sung Lee, who is still suffering with an MCL injury. Alexander Hack is back to full fitness and is available for selection on Saturday: “Hack is back to full fitness and fully took part in training,” confirmed Svensson.