'Take momentum from Rasgrad into Mainz game'

After the 3-2 win against Ludogorets Rasgrad, the Werkself set off home from Bulgaria on the same night. The team arrived at the BayArena on Friday just before 8 o'clock in the morning after a long delay due to a technical defect with the plane. Just back in Leverkusen from the first group game in the Europa league and the focus swiftly returns to the Bundesliga. The Werkself entertain FSV Mainz 05 on Sunday (23 September, 15.30 CET).

With an extremely short recovery period, Heiko Herrlich has to get his players fit again and ready for the next opponent within three days. "It was a special situation and we didn't plan the defect of course. That's why I sent the players home," said the head coach at the pre-match press conference ahead of the Mainz game. All of the first-team squad are to complete their regeneration sessions at home as an exception – whether that's by walking or riding a bike. "It doesn't make sense for everybody to drive home and then return in the afternoon. Sleep is the best regeneration. Everybody should recover well – and then we'll get back together tomorrow for training."

Question mark Over Lars Bender

Players with knocks – the Bender twins, Paulinho, Wendell and Dominik Kohr – were treated immediately on arrival at the BayArena. Heiko Herrlich did not have any worries about the latter named: "With Wendell, I'm assuming we'll sort it out in good time. Sven Bender's problem with his neck before the game against Rasgrad was unexpected but we are hopeful he may be able to play on Sunday." The 46-year-old coach was more reserved in his assessment of Lars Bender: "Lars went into yesterday's game with a knock. He gritted his teeth and fought his way through. In the second half he was on his last legs so I took him off. We'll have to see what happens today and tomorrow."

Determined performance required

Regardless of the recovery phase – the Bayer 04 coach hopes to be able to "take the momentum from the Europa League into the Mainz game" and improve the record (ten wins, four draws, ten defeats). "I hope the team has taken a small step forwards." After three defeats in the first three Bundesliga matches, he wants to prove at the almost sold out family matchday, "that we're still hungry. Football is a competitive game and I hope we've absorbed the experience from Rasgrad." On Sunday, the boss is looking for Bayer 04  to produce a determined performance against Mainz who are currently in sixth place with seven points from three games.

Fixture list is no excuse

The fact that the opposition will be fresh and rested for Sunday's game and don't have to struggle with travel strains is no excuse in the eyes of the head coach. "If you're playing in Europe then you have to live with it. It's all in the mind! You have to work, switch off and then get back at it the next day. You only have to jump that hurdle in your head once," said Herrlich. "Our lads are fit and they'll show that on Sunday." 


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