Indeed, after leading 2-0 for the majority of that quarter-final encounter, the late knockout blow was so bitter that the club opted for a somewhat unorthodox approach to their follow-up Bundesliga encounter.
Pain and gain
“There’s no question that it hurt us,” head coach Thomas Tuchel admitted. “We need a slight break from football, so we've altered the training scedule. We want to sweat a bit and have some fun.” Tuchel accordingly ditched the footballs in favour of table-tennis balls as his team switched off in a bid to switch back on.
“We’ve got to keep the motivation high in Düsseldorf,” added the coach. “We think we can get something, even win there.” To succeed, Tuchel may well have an ace in his pack with back in the squad and “a very good option off the bench.”
No Düsseldorf complacency
Before he takes to the field, Fortuna will be more concerned about Mainz’s 12-goal hitman. “He’s an authentic goalscorer,” said Düsseldorf's Norbert Meier, who hits the 50-game milestone as a Bundesliga head coach on Sunday. “We’re going to have to watch out for him.” The Hungarian is not the only concern, though. “We’ve got a lot to deal with,” added Meier. “They have plenty of decent players in their ranks.”
Meier also has no doubt that Tuchel’s unorthodox training methods will have the desired effect, dismissing the relevance of Mainz’s midweek cup disappointment. “Before we played FC Bayern, they had lost to BATE Borisov and the German national team had drawn 4-4 with Sweden, and people said that would all play into our hands...but Bayern were fully motivated and we had no chance. I’m sure Mainz have had enough recovery time.”
Hard to analyse
Fortuna have themselves had time enough to ponder the whys and wherefores of last week's 2-1 defeat to FC Schalke 04. However, Meier has not been able to lay his finger on precisely why his side were beaten, or rather, what they can do to prevent a repeat in future.
“If you look at the goals we conceded against Schalke, then you’ve also got to ask yourself how you can simulate things like that in training,” he said. “You go through spells in which nothing happens from corners or free-kicks, and others when you’re always conceding.” He will be hoping for the former rather than the latter on Sunday.
Fortuna: Giefer - Balogun, Latka, Malezas, van den Bergh - Bodzek, Tesche, Kruse, Fink, Bellinghausen - Schahin
Mainz: Müller - Pospech, Svensson, Noveski, Zabavnik - Baumgartlinger, Müller, Zimling - Ivanschitz - Parker, Szalai