Cologne - 1. FSV Mainz 05 coach Martin Schmidt will be reunited with his former mentor Thomas Tuchel when his side entertain Borussia Dortmund on Friday.
In the run-up to what will be an emotional affair at the Coface Arena, Schmidt spoke exclusively to bundesliga.com about his own coaching style, adapting to life as a Bundesliga tactician and the lessons he learned from the man in the opposite dugout this week.
bundesliga.com: Martin Schmidt, Mainz have taken 12 points after eight games. How do you assess the season so far?
Martin Schmidt: We had nine points after five games, and then after seven games we still had nine points. Things can change quickly at the beginning of a season. Sometimes only one or two games make the difference between a good and a bad start.
bundesliga.com: But surely it's a positive that your team can pick up important points when necessary, as they did in Darmstadt?
Schmidt: It's always about winning the right games. A hard-earned, glorious draw against Bayern would have been useless if we'd then lost to Darmstadt a week later. That's a notion that we tried to internalise in the second half of last season.
bundesliga.com: Did you have a role model as a coach?
Schmidt: In the last few years, it's always been Tuchel. He mentored me for my UEFA coaching badge, and I was lucky to be his assistant at Mainz; he was always coaching me at the highest level. My focus is on fitness, mentality and speed. I learned a lot about tactics, and became a more rounded coach under him.
bundesliga.com: Broadly speaking, there are two philosophies in modern football: the possession game of Pep Guardiola and the high-pressing game favoured by the likes of Jürgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel...
Schmidt: The two philosophies are now beginning to be fused together. There's a lot of talk about balancing the two of them, and I think a modern team has to do both: possession in the style of Guardiola but also transitional football like Klopp's Dortmund three years ago.