Stefan Bell: "Expecting a high energy game"

Stefan Bell is in his sixth year as a Mainz 05 player and has almost become part of the furniture at the club and in head coach Martin Schmidt’s team selections. Ahead of his team’s match against TSG, the centre back spoke to about the 4-4 in the teams' last meeting, his voluntary work and of course, the upcoming clash.

You are active on the board of Kreisliga side FC Vilja Wehr – why is that important to you and how much time can you devote to your work with them?

Stefan Bell: I spent my whole youth there and because of that it is important to me that the club stays functioning for the next 20 or 30 years. I have a lot of friends who play there, which is why I want to do my part to contribute to their fortunes. I try to get to a home game or to the area at least once a month, depending on how things fall with the Bundesliga schedule. We have around four to five board meetings per year – it is also in the rules that these meetings can happen in the evenings.

Now, onto the Bundesliga. Last Sunday you went behind to BVB just three minutes into the game. How did you manage to stay positive and steer yourselves to claiming a point in the end?

Bell: After going behind, we tried to carry on as normal, gather ourselves up and look at first not to concede again. Both before and after the BVB goal, we felt that we were playing well, and because the goal came as a result of an individual error, which is always easier to work through than when it comes as a result of a tactical lapse, regardless of BVB dominating the play. We aimed to just continue playing our game.

Last time M05 and TSG met it was a 4-4 draw, although Mainz had led 4-1 at one stage. What do you remember of that game?

Bell: Going 4-1 up before the break was almost too good – pretty much every shot we took went in. The lead was not undeserved, though. Gaeten Bussman’s sending off was a turning point in the game. It is clear to see the potential that TSG have going forward. The second goal came quickly. If there had been more of a gap, we might have been able to stem the tide more. We were swimming against the tide at 4-3 and TSG threw everything at us. The man advantage made it even more tough to see things out.

TSG fell to their first loss of the season last weekend against RB Leipzig. Do you think that will have an effect on Saturday’s game?

Bell: It will not affect our approach. It cannot be said if it changes things for Hoffenheim. It certainly does not change the fact that TSG have had a very good season and have a very strong and clear philosophy. That is not changed by one unfortunate defeat. Perhaps it will put a dampener on their mood but it could even make them more focussed.

Are you expecting an open, end-to-end match on Saturday or something more contained than last time?

Bell: It is fair to say that matches between Hoffenheim and Mainz have been very entertaining and action packed. Both sides want to play fast, powerful and energetic football and are strongly tied to their ability to cover ground. Therefore it is wise to expect a fast-paced game, but as a defender I am hoping that there will be fewer goals than last time. I would prefer a 0-0 to a 4-4!

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