1. FSV MAINZ 05 – MATCH REPORT vs 1. FC KÖLN 17/05/20

This is a guest piece from Harry Ewbank.

A charismatic second half effort from Mainz saw them dig deep to battle back from 2-0 down to claim a point and pull further clear of the relegation zone. Achim Beierlozer returned to his former employers with a much-changed Mainz side from there last outing in March, though he did deploy a three at the back system for the fifth time in six matches with a 3-4-3 formation. Edimilson Fernandes dropped back into defence to form a trio with Jeremiah St. Juste and  Moussa Niakhaté, a makeshift combination which was being utilised for the first time this campaign. The unfamiliar nature of this partnership did tell at times, nonetheless, a high press and winning the ball back is key to the way Mainz play and a more direct approach in the second half proved effective. It’s creativity that’s lacked throughout the season – and especially in the first 60 minutes of this contest, but they showed it in abundance to claw this one back and go three games unbeaten for the first time this season. 

Ratings

A1 – Very good, could play higher
A2 – Strong potential to play higher
B1 – Good, strong player at level
B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
C – Average for the level, rewatch
D- Below average, don’t follow up

Pierre Kunde Malong

Player Profile: 

Nationality: Cameroonian
Age: 24
Date of Birth: 26/07/1995
Current Club: Mainz
Career: Alcobendas, Atletico Madrid B, Extremadura (L), Granada (L), Mainz
Position: Centre Midfield
Second position: Defensive Midfield 
Preferred foot: Right

The midfielder, who has made 12 appearances for Cameroon, looked fit and sharp as the Bundesliga made its returning bow. Highlighting the team’s desired style of play, Malong was resilient in trying to win the ball back for his team, making several interceptions and he covered a lot of ground in the process. His role in front of a back three in a 3-4-3 meant that he could act as a hinge and would drop back a bit if the centre backs brought the ball out of the back line.

Admittedly the team struggled to find the killer pass despite dominating possession at points in the first half, and Malong gave the ball away on a couple of occasions. But with the ball at his feet he mainly looked comfortable though and possessed a good touch and close control

This ability came to fruition as the 24-year old scored the all-important equaliser – created after a run from the edge of the centre circle all the way through the penalty box without a challenge and he calmly slotted low past Timo Horn. 

Rating – B1

Aaron Martin

Player Profile:

Nationality: Spanish
Age: 23
Date of Birth: 22/04/1997
Current Club: Mainz
Career: Espanyol B, Espanyol, Mainz (L), Mainz
Position: Left back
Secondary position: Left wing
Preferred foot: Left

Martin typifies the modern model of a full back, showing a lot of attacking intent and quality in the final third. The team set up allowed such a style in this game as Martin acted as a wing back in a 3-4-3 formation in a return to the side after falling out of favour – the Spaniard had been benched by Beierlozer in five of the last six matches after completing most of the season.

His positivity was key, especially in the second half fight back, as he delivered some excellent swinging crosses in throughout the match. He was also took on corner duties from the right hand side, but his brilliance in finding the right areas was to no avail through most of the match with a far from potent strike force failing to get on the end of his crosses. Martin also made more sprints than anyone by far and with the team behind himself and right winger Baku were clearly instructed to bomb forward and build on the momentum they built in the second half comeback.

His reliability in the defensive third was put to question throughout this encounter and he was often found too high up the pitch or too narrow in defence, meaning an abundance of threatening crosses were delivered in from the right with no challenge whatsoever. This proved critical in the 53rd minute when Köln took a two goal lead, as a whipped cross from Dominick Drexler found Florian Kainz at the back post to head home. 

Rating – B2

Moussa Niakhate

Player Profile:

Nationality: French
Age: 24
Date of Birth: 08/03/1996
Current Club: Mainz
Career: Valenciennes, Metz, Mainz
Position: Centre back
Secondary position: Left back
Preferred foot: Left

Niakhaté took on the captain’s armband for the 10th time this season and having played all but one game he was again started in a much-changed side.

His influence was felt early on but for the wrong reasons, as a ball over the top baffled the defensive line, resulting in the Frenchmen conceding a penalty after an extremely clumsy challenge where cover may have been at hand. 

It was clear to see that he had confidence on the ball, and the system allowed him to spread left at every opportunity to ask for it, whilst also running the ball up the field knowing he had cover in behind him.  The aggressive nature of Mainz playing from the front was encapsulated by the captain, who made a number of recovery interceptions, but some of these were fouls or forced after losing the ball in midfield. 

He looked to deliver sought after long balls which proved the effective mechanism for his team’s heroic efforts, but a scrappy nature to his play also showed a nerve in the defensive lines. 

Rating – C

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