It’s easy to look around the Bundesliga and find the villains to the Sudtribune. Of course there’s Sch*lke and the team of H*mm*ls. But what about teams that we all silently root for? Mainz is undoubtedly one of those squads for when we’re casually watching non BVB games. How could you hate the club that gave us Klopp AND Tuchel AND Martin Schmidt in 2022?
So how’s our next coach doing at the carnival club?
How did they do last season?
Mainz had a resurgent year last season, miraculously making a 10 point improvement and claiming a 6th placed European finish. They have firmly established themselves as a mid table side with the potential to aim for more.
Strategy and Tactics
Martin Schmidt has a bit of a Tuchel/Klopp streak in him which is great since you know...he’s our next coach. He continued what’s now become a trademark of Mainz, a high octane, high pressing system designed to catch opponents off guard. for American fans, he’s like the football coach that runs the triple option to win with inferior talent. And boy did the carnival club win. They swept the season series with Gladbach, beat Schalke, and of course beat Bayern at the Allianz Arena. He often sent three players after the ball to cut off passing lanes in all directions. This intense pressure was especially focused on the backline of opponents to deny service to the midfield. Ultimately, preventing attacks before they started was their best defense...and Loris Karius being a wall in goal. Nonetheless, Schmidt’s system of high pressing high upfield led to a solid defensive record. Their 42 goals allowed was good for joint 4th in the Bundesliga last year.
I expect much of the same intense pressing strategy this year if not more intense. It will be interesting to see if teams start to play Mainz like they did Dortmund towards the end of Klopp’s tenure: purposely giving away possession and waiting for the counter. In my opinion they don’t have the personnel to sustain a possession based style nor has Schmidt displayed the tactical acumen to make that midseason switch. Adaptation will be key to their ability to stay in the European places.
Jhon Cordoba (Striker)-from Granada CF for €6.5 million
Jean-Philippe Gbamin-defensive midfielder from Lens for €5.0 million
Gerrit Holtmann-winger from Eintracht Braunschweig for €3.0 million
Jonas Lössl-goalkeeper from Guingamp for €2.8 million
Jose Rodriguez-midfielder from Galatasaray for €2.15 million
Christian Clemens-winger from Schalke for €2.0 million
Loris Karius-goalkeeper to Liverpool for €6.2 million
Julian Baumgartlinger-defensive midfielder to Bayer Leverkusen for €4.0 million
Christoph Moritz-midfielder to Kaiserslauten for €250,000
Dortmund fans have likely heard a lot about Malli since he’s long been linked to BVB. A quick look at his statistics and highlight videos make it pretty obvious why he’s destined for a bigger club. Gifted with technical prowess, the Turkish international is able to score and set up goals. The 05’s will need him to be much more consistent if they want to match last year’s result.
Latza isn’t always a sure starter but he’s still a key player for a Mainz squad the struggles for goals. The midfielder created the second most chances last year behind Malli. They’ll need him to come on and grab three points throughout the season.
A third key offensive player for a team that lost a lot of star power in defense. Jairo created the third most chances on this team after Latza and Malli last season. The former Sevilla man has a Reus streak in him, often cutting in from the wing. This led to a 7 goal, 5 assist season for the Spaniard who is still only 23.
Mainz are firmly a mid table team that doesn’t rely on stars and you could argue that any number of players are “key” players.
Mainz didn’t lose a lot of players from last season’s surprise squad, but they did lose two key pieces that both contribute to the defensive facet of the game. Their defensive record of 42 goals allowed was good for tied 4th in the Bundesliga and were a key part of their wins last year. Lössl and Gbamin will need to immediately and effectively replace Karius and Baumgartlinger respectively if the 05ers want to finish in the European places. I don’t think they’ll be able to keep it as tidy in the back during 2016-2017 especially since the pressing system inevitably gives up good chances. Last year many thought Mainz overachieved and the statistics tell a similar story. They only had a goal differential of +4. More “advanced” statistics concur as well. Squawka actually rates their overall performance last year as worse than heir 11th placed finish in 2014-2015. The decline was especially noticeable in attacking categories (clear chances, successful take ons shots on goal etc.). In essence their defensive renaissance is what powered their 2015-2016 season. With a weakened defense and almost the same cast of characters in attack, I think we’ll see Mainz regress to 9th in the Bundesliga.