Julian Nagelsmann on…
I’ve known Sandro Schwarz for a long time, from the U19s and the U23s and I know the type of football that he likes to play. Mainz press high, switch from defence to attack quickly and they like to play the ball out from the back. Their pressing game also means they are aggressive in their challenges. Mainz are a dangerous team, they have good attacking-minded footballers and are fast down the wings. They lost a very strong striker in Jhon Cordoba but Mutu is also clinical in front of goal. As well as that, they’ve got players who can add that extra impetus from the bench.
…the team news.
The situation with Serge Gnabry is better than it was a few days ago but we’ll have to wait and see tomorrow. He hasn’t trained for a while. Like I said last week, it is more likely that he’ll be back and ready to play on the weekend against Schalke. Adam Szalai is still not fit enough to train. His thigh is still causing him a bit of pain. That will take a bit longer to heal. Robert Zulj is on his way back to fitness after his pelvic injury but we need to give him time as well. That sort of injury takes a while to recover from because that area of the body is used constantly in day-to-day life.
…the sporting situation.
When you’re assessing the games we’ve played so far this season, you have to differentiate between the performance and the result. In the home game against Liverpool, for instance, our performance was up to scratch but we didn’t get the result. That differentiation is also necessary in the league – we have eight points after four games. If you had given that to me before the start of the season, considering the opponents we’ve faced, I would’ve bitten your hand off. In the Europa League, we obviously need to get more points to progress. We won’t get anywhere with zero points but we will address that issue next week.
Head to Head
TSG have won five times and drawn six times in 18 Bundesliga games against Mainz. The Zerofivers have won 7. Hoffenheim do not have a great record away at Mainz, they have only one once there. And that was a while ago. In September 2011 – on Matchday 5 – Hoffenheim won 4-0, with goals from Roberto Firmino, Ryan Babel (2) and a Nikolce Noveski own goal. Last season, Julian Nagelsmann’s side staged a stunning comeback, coming from 4-1 down at half time to draw 4-4. Mark Uth with a brace and Adam Szalai scored the TSG goals after the break to take a point back to Sinsheim.
The opponent’s form
Mainz have 3 points on the board under their new head coach Sandro Schwarz after four matches. They lost to promoted sides Hannover and Stuttgart on the first two matchdays and to FC Bayern at the weekend. Their only win this season came on Matchday 3, in a 3-1 home win against Bayer Leverkusen. That is the only game in which Mainz have scored; they have failed to score in all of their defeats this season.
The key battle
The stamina advantage – TSG have run an average of 118 kilometres per game. The second highest in the league. Mainz in contrast have run an average of 110.5km per game, less than every other team in the league. TSG’s priority under Julian Nagelsmann is to play good football but they haven’t forgotten the basis of every successful team. Both stamina and good football will be key against Mainz.