Pros 20.12.2019 — 18:36 Uhr

Frustration tolerance needed for '2019 Showdown'

Achim Beierlorzer has prioritised recovery following the team’s 5-0 win against Werder midweek, hoping to give his players the energy to give absolutely everything against Leverkusen in the final game of the year.

Mainz will conclude their ‘Englische Woche’ and the 2019 calendar year with a home game. Following the thumping 5-0 victory in Bremen on Tuesday, the Zerofivers have set themselves up perfectly for a grand finale in the OPEL ARENA when Bayer 04 Leverkusen come to town on Saturday. Achim Beierlorzer is expecting a top opponent: "This is yet another big challenge for us, but that’s exactly what playing in the Bundesliga is all about," said the boss at the pre-match press conference. 

At the Christmas Village by the Arena around 80 former Mainz players and coaches will be serving up the mulled wine at the family Christmas party ahead of kick off. Later, they and the supporters will take their seats and hope to watch the team give 2019 the perfect send-off and take another three points into the winter break.

The head coach himself was at the BayArena on Wednesday, watching on and observing as Hertha BSC came away with a 1-0 win against the hosts. Beierlorzer was impressed with what the Berlin side had to offer: Their intensity and organisation made life difficult for Leverkusen’s dangerous forwards. "They like to have possession and they play out well from the back with great individual quality throughout the team.

Frustration tolerance

"We need good frustration tolerance, as we definitely won’t have as much possession. Obviously we will be trying to win the ball back, but that won’t be so easy against Leverkusen," said the coach. Curiously, despite their possession rates, Peter Bosz’s men have almost scored more goals on the counter. Hertha managed to prevent any such incidents for the most part on Wednesday. "We’ve run a video analysis and we will be bringing our Mainz 05 nuances into it. We need a compact back line again, to make sure they can’t hit us with transitions." 

The opposition are going into the game off the back of two defeats, and our aim is nothing less than to make it three from three for them. "We want to build on all the things we did well in Bremen," said Beierlorzer. The defensive display, for example: "It was so nice to keep a clean sheet there," said the 52-year-old, who has another defensive option at his disposal for Saturday in Jeremiah St. Juste, whose yellow card suspension has been served. On Tuesday, Alexander Hack filled in for the Dutchman at centre-back and put in a solid performance. "Alex had a superb game alongside Moussa. Now we’ve got another important player coming back into the picture. It’s a great situation for me as a coach," he said, without revealing who would start against Leverkusen.

Onisiwo back in the squad

Games against BVB and Werder in such a short space of time took up a lot of energy, which is why the head coach prioritised recovery over the last few days. He consciously lowered the intensity of the training sessions, with the view that after such a big win, motivation and attitude for the next game would be a more psychological process. "Obviously we will still be preparing for the Leverkusen game with some video analysis and tactic training," added the boss. Top of his list, however, was making sure his players recharged their batteries for the "2019 showdown." He continued: "We want to leave everything on the pitch in this game to try and finish the year successfully. We want to go into this game with the same attitude as against Werder. I think we are well-prepared."

In other news, Karim Onisowo has recovered from his injury and will return to the squad. Dong-Won Ji, who has been out of action since preseason, has started training with the team again, similarly to Jean-Philippe Mateta in terms of drive, but with a bit more distance. "Anyone who has played football knows what it means to return to the team and not be running around outside and watching what your teammates are doing. Dong Won is also visibly delighted to be with the group," said Beierlorzer. However, the Korean will not be in the squad again until 2020.