HACK: DO NOT GET INVOLVED IN ARITHMETIC GAMES
The Mainz centre-back on the upswing under Bo Svensson, the coup over FC Bayern & the upcoming rescheduled match against Hertha BSC
As one of the longest-serving players in the Mainz squad - Alexander Hack has been with the club since 2014 (83 Bundesliga games, 3 goals) - the defender has already experienced a lot around the Bruchweg. The current season has also had its ups and downs for the 27-year-old. Most recently, he celebrated his comeback to the starting eleven with the team in the victory over Bayern Munich. The Zerofivers want to crown the remarkable upswing under Bo Svensson in the coming weeks by staying in the league. In order to achieve this under their own steam, they must consistently continue on the path they have taken under the head coach and continue to perform as an inseparable unit: "That must be our benchmark. We must not rest on our laurels," says Hack.
Since Svensson took over at the beginning of January, the Rheinhessen team has won eight of its 16 Bundesliga games. At the same time, the Dane has also had an influence on the mood in the team, as Hack confirms: "Bo has simply managed to turn many important screws. Every player has managed to give a few percent more on the pitch. The most important thing is that we play as a team. Before, we sometimes let ourselves down too quickly in the game or simply didn't earn the match luck. That's different now," explains Hack, who has worked his way up from second-last to twelfth place in the table with Mainz in recent months.
Change of coach a chance for a fresh start
"The season as a whole was a huge up and down, but it is of course fascinating when you manage to have such a comparatively good situation four matchdays before the end after the first half of the season with seven points. Every one of us saw it as a challenge, as an opportunity to make a fresh start in the team," the 27-year-old describes Mainz's change in mentality, which is also reflected in match preparation. "In general, the training sessions have become more intense, we do a lot for our energy and you can see that every weekend on the pitch."
In the time I didn't play, the boys did great
In parallel to the season as a whole, Hack also experienced a season of ups and downs. Set as a leading player under Svensson at the beginning, the 27-year-old then had to settle behind Moussa Niakhaté, Stefan Bell or Jeremiah St. Juste in Mainz's three-man backline. "I felt really good under Bo in the early days, I was also a regular and one of the key players who tried to push the team on again, which was certainly not easy at the time," Hack underlines and also praises his defensive colleagues. "In the time I didn't play, the boys did great," says the defender, who wants to continue presenting himself for the starting eleven with good performances. "My ambition is to play."
There is no getting around it
In the recent 2-1 home win against the record champions, the Memmingen native was back on the pitch for the full game - and impressed with a commanding performance: "Of course it was a huge feeling, especially because it was dubbed a bonus game everywhere. But we knew that it was more than that for us, that we also wanted to score against Bayern. It was an absolutely united team performance, everyone pulled together. Even though there were unfortunately no spectators, it felt like every Mainz player in the stadium was giving it their all and that was simply a good feeling," said Hack, whose mood was not dampened by his involuntary assist to Robert Lewandowski for the final goal shortly before the end.
"Shortly after the final whistle, I was still a bit angry with myself for my faux pas. Of course there were a few comments about it. After the tenth time it wasn't funny any more, but there's no getting around it," smiled the Mainz defender, who had previously played a decisive role in the fact that the best offensive team in the league rarely had any top-class scoring chances. "I showed against Bayern that even if I didn't play the few games before, I can still perform."
With full conviction into the final spurt
The 27-year-old, who joined the Rheinhessen side from SpVgg Unterhaching in 2014, is likely to continue to play an important role in the upcoming final spurt of the season. "We are still not safe and have to step on the gas, even if it should be mathematically so far at some point," emphasised Hack, who would like to secure safety with his team in the coming weeks. "In the last few games, we want to show what we are capable of as a team, as Mainz 05 - then we won't have to get involved in arithmetic games."
We want to show from the start that we want to stay in the league rather than Hertha
Next Monday (6pm CET), the first match is the rescheduled game against Hertha BSC, second from last in the table, whose players had to go into quarantine for a fortnight after several Coronavirus cases. "It will be a tough fight. For Hertha, the last few weeks have been anything but good preparation for the final spurt. But they will still be hot, of course, they had to sit on the sofa and watch how the competition scores," Hack expects a gripping duel and underlines his own goals. "We want to show from the start that we want to stay in the league rather than Hertha. If we go into the game like we have in recent weeks, I'm not worried about that."