Mainz miracle workers taking the Bundesliga by storm


Bo Svensson's Mainz made Bayern Munich the latest victims of their frighteningly good form with a come-from-behind victory on Matchday 29. bundesliga.com takes a look at how the 05ers are flying so high...

Leipzig, Bayern, Freiburg, Leverkusen, Gladbach - those are just some of the big Bundesliga names Mainz have beaten or drawn against in their staggering 10-match unbeaten run. It is the longest such unbeaten series in the Germany's top flight currently, and longest in the club's history within a single season.

If you make a table of the second half of the season, Mainz are all the way up in second behind leaders Borussia Dortmund. They have racked up more points (45) and goals (49) than ever before after Matchday 29 of a Bundesliga season to leave them seventh overall, and well in contention for a European qualifying spot.

It is no freak purple patch for a club that have quietly been adding piece after piece to build a side capable of reaching the upper ends of the table. It's a great time to look at a few of them...

Watch: Mainz 3-1 Bayern Munich - highlights

Bo belief

Svensson arrived in Mainz at the start of 2021 as a well-known former player with no record in top-flight coaching. What he did have thanks to his five years on the touchline in the Mainz youth ranks and at Liefering, an Austrian second-flight feeder club of Red Bull Salzburg, was a top grounding in the art of pressing. By rushing into opponents at any given moment, as Mainz had famously shown under Jürgen Klopp when Svensson began his playing spell at the 05ers, star ensembles could be hurried and hustled into embarrassing defeats.

Svensson the player won three times for Mainz against Bayern - most notably a 2-1 comeback win at the Allianz Arena in 2009 with Thomas Tuchel in charge of the visitors - giving him plenty of belief of what the club would be capable of under his management.

If he had any difficulty implanting that confidence in his charges, results have surely finished the job for him. The 3-1 win over Bayern on Matchday 29 of the current season was the third time in three attempts that the record champions have travelled to Mainz during Svensson's spell and returned to Munich defeated.

Bo Svensson had not coached a top-flight club before taking charge of Mainz in January 2021. - IMAGO/Frank Hoermann / SVEN SIMON/IMAGO/Sven Simon

Putting in the hard yards

For all Svensson's confidence, willpower alone is not enough to win football matches. When players believe in a system that has shown to be successful and give everything to prolong that success, then a club like Mainz can work their way into their current sweet spot.

That Mainz comfortably outran Bayern - by 123.1 km to 116.5 km - during their 3-1 win is no great surprise. Mainz ranked fourth highest for each of total distance covered, sprints and intensive runs this season in the Bundesliga after Matchday 29. If anyone doubted their mettle, they were also second in duels won and the team to have committed the most fouls at the same stage of the season.

As important technical finesse is in football, Mainz continue to show that sheer guts can close the gap to better resourced sides.

Getting the jigsaw in place

The 05ers have been hitting the right formula on and off the pitch. While some of their Bundesliga competitors maybe have a bit more muscle in the transfer market, Mainz have shown this year they have a real eye for getting the right players in at the right time.

Norwegian defender Andreas Hanche-Olsen was recruited from Gent in January 2023 and has given a real boost to their backline with his commanding performances. Just 13 of the 40 goals Mainz have conceded this season fell in the 12 matches after the winter break. The defensive solidity has been founded on the consistent selection of the same back three for the past 11 matches - with Hanche-Olsen joined by Stefan Bell and Edimilson Fernandes.

Ludovic Ajorque has proven to be an equally inspired signing at the other end of the pitch. The striker signed from Strasbourg has the physique and capability to lead the press, hold up play and repeatedly find the net - his vital equaliser against Bayern saw him score for the fourth consecutive match.

Watch: The Svensson Effect

Happy camp

Consistently upsetting the big boys and rocketing up the Bundesliga table is always going to make for a happy environment. And Svensson seems to have been able to foster special sense of harmony in the Mainz squad that has reinforced their success.

Rather than relying on star power and household names, Mainz are very much all about the collective. It could be the fact that with Mainz one short of 50 Bundesliga goals for the season, no player is yet to reach double figures: Karim Onisiwo and Marcus Ingvartsen are on nine each, Jae-Sung Lee on seven.

The fact that Svensson could leave Ingvartsen and Germany international Anton Stach on the bench against Bayern without fear of upsetting anyone is testament to the positive feeling around the club. That is being shown in the stands, with average attendances at home matches increasing from 17,996 last season to 28,492.

To add to the good news around the place, Mainz's U19 side were crowned German champions the day after the first team beat Bayern. With European competition looking increasingly likely next season, Mainz's propensity for miracles has every chance of seeing them make even bigger waves in future.