Pros 17.03.2023 — 17:56 Uhr

Clash under the lights against a "well-oiled machine"

Svensson expects a tight game against Freiburg

Leandro Barreiro and Daniel-Kofi Kyereh compete for the ball during the game earlier in the season.
Leandro Barreiro and Daniel-Kofi Kyereh compete for the ball during the game earlier in the season.

On Sunday evening (19:30 CET), 1. FSV Mainz 05 take on SC Freiburg at the MEWA ARENA in the final game of Bundesliga matchday 25. The game pits the Bundesliga’s fifth-placed side against the seventh, with only nine points separating the two. Freiburg are a "well-oiled machine", according to Mainz head coach Bo Svensson, praising Mainz’s opponents in his press conference on a training-free Friday. He added, however, that the mood in the Zerofivers' own camp is also positive following five straight games without defeat. Svensson particularly emphasised the chemistry, enthusiasm and professionalism that his team have been showing in training. Despite having full respect for Freiburg, he added that the team go into the game on Sunday evening "with full confidence of wanting to win the game."

Quality depth the key

In terms of team news, Svensson can call upon almost all of the squad, with only Jonathan Burkardt still unavailable. Karim Oniwiso and Anthony Caci, who had worked with a reduced workload during the week, as well as Stefan Bell who is fine after a briefly worrying moment in training on Thursday, should be present for the team’s final training session tomorrow and ready for Sunday. Onisiwo has made a "good impression" and is feeling fresh, according to the Zerofivers head coach. Last weekend, as the attacker celebrated his comeback with 30 minutes at the end of the game in Berlin after a knee injury, it was clear for all to see the added dimension the Austria international adds to Mainz’s game.

The competition for places is fierce.

The Mainz coach, in reaction to questions about possible changes to the starting eleven, put particular emphasis on the depth of the squad, the quality that they can train with across the board, as well as the positive impact that has been made off the bench again and again in recent weeks. As a result, picking a starting eleven will be "no easy decision", but Svensson added this was a nice problem to have and despite recent positive results there have still been lots of tight selection calls. "The competition for places is fierce," emphasised Svensson, highlighting that the difference between players is very small, also during the week's training. "I find it very positive that we are talking about this. Even if you are winning games, players who have not played as much recently are still being spoken about. That illustrates the quality that we have on the bench and the impact that the boys have made. It should stay this way, this is the absolute key to us playing so well recently."

Clear heads on Sunday evening

In Berlin, this success was limited for large stretches of the game, but in the end Svensson’s team were able to pick up an away point despite a performance that could be improved upon in several areas. "That’s a development," suggested Svensson. All in all, the head coach put forward that the team are playing more consistently, which was "a key focus" for him. "When I see how the boys interact with each other on the training pitch or in the dressing room, with the energy and professionalism that they carry out strength and conditioning sessions, for me that’s a sign that something has happened and a reason that we are be rewarded," said Svensson, lauding the efforts of his players.

For me that’s a sign that something has happened and a reason that we are be rewarded.

The players had a day off on Friday, "so that we don’t train from Tuesday to Sunday during the extended training week," explained the Zerofivers’ head coach, explaining from his own experience that if the players complete four sessions from Tuesday to Thursday and then have the Friday off, the team will be in a good rhythm to be mentally and physically fresh for the game against Freiburg.

Freiburg "a role model for many"

Svensson recognises exactly this mental freshness in Mainz’s upcoming opponents, Freiburg. He added that it was not easy to maintain this "with their schedule." The Zerofivers head coach praised SCF’s Europa League journey, which came to the end with their last 16 defeat against Juventus last night, saying: "they did it and gave a good account of themselves". He added that Freiburg can come off the back of that game against a top Italian side with their "heads held high", having put in a good performance.

Freiburg are a role model for many, because lots of things work well together there.

"Freiburg are a role model for many, because lots of things work well together there. From their style of playing to the way in which they represent themselves, I have the greatest respect for them," said the Mainz coach, full of respect for their opponents and not wanting to hear about a potential advantage from Freiburg having played in the Europa League on Thursday night. "If you look, they’ve had to deal with competing in difficult games in the Bundesliga only three days after playing in the Europa League for almost the whole season and have often come through that test very well," emphasised Svensson, highlighting that Freiburg’s game against Juventus had played no role in the Zerofivers’ preparation.

Full of confidence in wanting to win the game

"They have also been convincing in the Bundesliga and picked up points well. That already is no mean feat and shows how good Freiburg are," said the Dane. He went on to say that you hardly ever see bad games from Streich’s side and their games are at a constantly high level. "Even if they don’t play well by their standards, it’s not really that bad. They are a well-oiled machine and also don’t get nervous if games aren’t going their way, stay true to their way of playing and believe in themselves. They are a well-drilled side and I definitely expect to see this on Sunday," said Svensson, predicting a close game.

"We will go into the home game completely normally, with full confidence that we want to win the game,” said the Zerofivers head coach, suggesting their approach for the weekend. “We don’t need to tell the boys too much about how we’re playing a difficult opponent that are doing brilliant work, we are looking forward to taking on the challenge. A game under the floodlights against Freiburg like this is a highlight for us," said Svensson, suggesting the team would be highly motivated for the occasion.