Niakhaté: “It’s up to us”
Mainz 05 captain Moussa Niakhaté speaks ahead of the Bundesliga match against BVB about his physical condition, his role in the team and the keys to taking something away from the game.
Moussa Niakhaté was forced out of action for two Bundesliga games as a result of a thigh injury suffered in the 2-0 away win over Hoffenheim. Last time out against Union Berlin, the 25-year-old made his return towards the end of the game from the bench, before being rested in the friendly against 1. FC Kaiserslautern in the international break. The centre back is now well on his way to recovery. “I’m doing well, I’m very happy because I’ve worked really hard with Axel and the physios. I got some minutes against Berlin and I feel really good at the moment,” said the captain.
Niakhaté has worn the armband since the start of the season – a task that the defender recognises carries a lot of responsibility, even if it has not impacted his role as a player greatly. “I’m the same as I was before. It’s about helping my teammates. I will open my mouth and I’ll be louder at times when necessary to wake up the team. At the end of the day, my role is the same and I’ll continue to give my all for the rest of the season.
“A season always has highs and lows”
The captain watched the games against SC Freiburg and Bayer 04 Leverkusen from the sidelines and sees several reasons for the 05ers’ three-game winless run. “There are highs and lows in every season. We had a really strong start with nine from a possible twelve points. Now the other teams are aware that we’re doing well and perhaps they line up slightly differently against us. We’ve also been lacking a bit of the luck that we had in the games against Leipzig and Fürth,” said Niakhaté. “Now it’s up to us again to show how we can frustrate teams.”
Now it’s up to us to show how we can frustrate teams.
That’s exactly what Bo Svensson’s side will look to do on Saturday (kick off 15:30 CEST), when they take on Borussia Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park. “Dortmund are a very good side and have a lot of quality in attack, but we’ve shown in the part that we can hold our own against BVB,” highlighted Niakhaté, who is optimistic despite some defensive absentees. “There are a lot of others in our squad who can step in there – whether it’s David or Hacki, who played last time out – so I don’t see any problem there. It’s on us to carry on working and learn from our mistakes in the past and do it better against Dortmund.”
Relaxed and clear-headed against BVB
The Zerofivers have demonstrated how to stand up against Dortmund in their past two fixtures at the Signal Iduna Park. “Our last two away games against Dortmund went really well, also because we defended really well. I think it’s important that we’re clear-headed and make sure we’re relaxed before the game, remember our strengths, carry out our responsibilities and play without fear. If we can deliver that on the day, then we’ve got all the ingredients to give ourselves a chance to come away with something.”
We’re full of motivation to bring something away.
Niakhaté sees the fixture being played in front of fans again not as a disadvantage, but rather as extra motivation. “I think it’s better than fans will be back in the stadium in Dortmund. That’s why we all play football. It will force us to play our own game even when the whole stadium is against us. We’re absolutely full of motivation to bring something back to Mainz from the game.”