Movement in the gate in front of Leverkusen
Robin Zentner has not yet played a competitive match this year. The goalkeeper of the FSV Mainz 05 was already suffering from back muscle problems during the winter preparations, which massively restricted his ability to work. A condition that those responsible initially believed could be remedied quickly, but which actually lasted until last weekend. At least.
In the meantime, the 28-year-old can complete the entire training program with goalkeeping coach Stephan Kuhnert Bo Svensson on Friday at the press conference before the game at Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday evening (7.30 p.m. in FAZ live ticker for the Bundesliga and at DAZN). “My impression of him is good.”
However, there no longer seems to be an automatism for Zentner’s return to the goal. So far, Svensson had always pointed out when asked that Zentner was still number one as deputy team captain and would take his place between the posts again as soon as he had regained his full potential. In the meantime, however, a rethink has evidently set in.
“The performance principle counts”
“Robin hasn’t played for a long time. And the longer you don’t play and the other is doing well, the more things shift,” Svensson explained. “At the time we didn’t think it would take that long. But it makes a difference whether you’re missing one or two games or six or seven.” Finn Dahmen, who announced his departure at the end of the season due to his cast in concrete role as number two, has now guarded the goal six times in a row, five times in the league, once in the DFB Cup. With his consistently convincing performances, he could have secured more games.
“The performance principle counts,” said Svensson, “the impressions from the training. You don’t get anything for free” – this can be interpreted in such a way that the vice-captain’s bonus takes a back seat and Zentner has to pass Dahmen again in the practice sessions in order to oust him from the starting formation.
Regardless of the current situation, the Mainz team are thinking about how they will fill the position that will become vacant in the summer, whether they will sign a number two or Lasse Rieß, currently the third man, and how the other two goalkeepers from the Mainz youth team emerged, these transfer task.
On this issue, too, the weights are gradually shifting, as Svensson indicated. He used to be reluctant to praise Riess because he “then went into self-satisfaction mode”. But the 21-year-old has developed well. “Both as a goalkeeper and in his attitude towards professional business, his body, his talent.” Riess is roughly on the same level as Zentner and Dahmen, he’s getting better and more consistent.
“That speaks for him,” said the coach. “He’s well on his way to earning number two status. Emphasis on ‘work’. Because if you slack off a bit, a new one will come around the corner and overtake you.”
Speaking of overtaking: With a win in Leverkusen the 05ers would pass their hosts. Only one point separates the twelfth from the eighth place, which suggests a balanced duel. The Mainz coach disagrees: “If you know Leverkusen better, you know that they are a top 5 team in the league,” said Bo Svensson.
The Bayer problems at the beginning of the season, from which the Rheinhessen could not benefit, are forgotten; they were the only team to lose to the Werkself on the first eight games. Although they dominated the game at 0:3, Leverkusen showed their speed on two counterattacks – supported by an unstable Mainz back line that day – and the game was decided before the break.