The new aim: Finish in the top ten
The Zerofivers secured Bundesliga safety following Saturday’s 3-1 victory against Fortuna Düsseldorf – Schwarz gives his side new aim for remaining four matches.
Unlike the previous two seasons, 1. FSV Mainz 05 have never been in danger of suffering Bundesliga relegation this season. Nevertheless, spirits were high in the sunny OPEL ARENA at full-time on Saturday afternoon as the stadium erupted into euphoria. Sandro Schwarz’s side secured another season of Bundesliga football with four matches to spare. “We will celebrate properly over the Easter weekend,” said the Zerofivers head coach after the hard earned 3-1 home win against Fortuna Düsseldorf. At the same time, however, Schwarz has set a new target for his side. “Our new clear aim is to finish the season in the top ten.”
After the highly entertaining and exciting match against Düsseldorf reached its conclusion, which mirrored the ups and downs of Mainz’s season, the fans applauded Schwarz and his team. The head coach and players responded by celebrating with the fans long after the final whistle. This was a fitting end to Mainz’s annual family day. Mainz can now look forward to an eleventh season in the top flight of German football.
“It really is special”
“Congratulations to everyone associated with the club,” said sporting director Rouven Schröder shortly after the match. “It really is a special feeling when everything goes to plan and you secure safety with four matches to go.” Saturday’s match against Düsseldorf, who themselves secured their top flight status for next season last weekend, was another example of how difficult it can be to win in the Bundesliga. “However, what you saw is that our team has a lot of potential. This is best shown when the team aren’t exhausted but able to find some extra energy to see them over the line. That is great to see,” said Schröder, who can now start to begin preparations for next season.
The biggest compliment for the Zerofivers came from Fortuna head coach Friedhelm Funkel, who knows the feeling of Bundesliga survival better than anyone else. The 65 year-old took the opportunity to congratulate the entire community surrounding 1. FSV Mainz 05, the sporting director and most of all the head coach. “This also applies to all the work Sandro has done over multiple years here. Sandro has now secured Bundesliga survival for the second time, which is an incredible achievement. Mainz are already a role model for me and the way in which they work is splendid.” He looks forward to future matches between Mainz and Fortuna next season, but added: “You won’t be taking six points off us next season.” Mainz also won the previous encounter between these teams this season, a 1-0 win in Düsseldorf.
“It was important for us to seal the deal, regardless of what happened in other matches. We built our preparations around the excitement and the prospect of safety,” explained Schwarz. Unlike recent matches against Freiburg and Borussia Dortmund, where the team struggled to settle into the match, Mainz made a lightning fast start against Düsseldorf. It took just 36 second for Jean-Philippe Mateta to open the scoring as the Frenchman got on the end of Karim Onisiwo’s pass to strike home. However, just the hosts looked to take control and double their head, Dodi Lukebakio struck back to draw Düsseldorf level. “We were punished for our first mistakes in the match and had to overcome a difficult period in the first half. The pendulum swung back in our favour in the second half with the penalty miss,” summarised the Mainz head coach.
Maxim introduction proved to be the key to victory
The Video Assistant Referee spotted a handball against Alexander Hack in his own penalty area and referee Markus Schmidt pointed to the spot. However, Fortuna striker Lukebakio could only fire his penalty onto Florian Müller’s post in the 58th minute. “We managed to find some more energy after that moment,” said Schwarz. His team started to play more courageously and forced Fortuna back with some good build-up play ending in two well taken goals.
Alexandru Maxim’s introduction proved to be the key to victory as he provided the ball to Aarón Martin who’s assist was forced home by Onisiwo. Jean-Paul Boëtius’s excellent ball was also finished by Mateta as Mainz ran out 3-1 winners. Mateta scored his 12th goal of the season in the process. “It feels good to see so many happy fans in the stadium. That was our aim,” said Schwarz.