When Thomas Tuchel takes his Bayern side to Mainz this weekend, the pre-match handshake with the opposition coach will be a little warmer than usual and might even extend to a man hug. The post-match interactions are sure to be deep regardless of the result. Mainz trainer Bo Svensson’s playing career at the club was predominantly spent under Tuchel and the two share a close bond.
Back in 2009 when Tuchel was the surprise choice to take over at Mainz, Danish midfielder Bo Svensson was a central defender in his third season at the club having signed from Borussia Mönchengladbach in the summer of 2007. He played one season under Jürgen Klopp, and one under Jörn Andersen before rookie coach Tuchel was handed the job.
Svensson came on as a substitute in Tuchel’s Bundesliga debut against Bayer Leverkusen and went on to make 26 appearances becoming a key part of Tuchel’s defence. When Tuchel left to join Borussia Dortmund at the end of the 2013/14 season, Svensson decided to end his playing career at retire. He had made 90 of his 109 appearances for the Nullfünfer under Thomas Tuchel.
“Saturday will be special, I played under him for five years” Svensson reflected this week. “I learnt a lot from him as a footballer and a person during that time. Looking back at your life, there are always people who have helped to shape who you are and where you have. One of those people for me is Thomas Tuchel.
“We will catch up as friends before and after the game, but during the match we will try all we can to help our respective sides get the win.”
Thomas Tuchel also took time in his press conference ahead of the match to praise his former disciple. “Even as a player, he ticked like a coach. That reminded me a bit of myself.
“He was already very critical as a player and questioned a lot. Even as a player, he played football with a lot of foresight. He wasn’t a sprinter, but he still played at this level. We could all imagine that he would be a good coach.
“We never lost contact, he is a fantastic person. Christian Heidel is back and the club is reassured. Mainz has found a strong coach again. The core that defines Mainz 05 has been found. It looks good in the table. This is primarily thanks to Bos and Christian. But enough praise for now: we go there to win.”
Svensson will be looking to repeat the home win Mainz achieved last season when the two sides meet on Saturday, The win last season didn’t damage Bayern’s stroll to the Bundesliga title, but should Tuchel be bettered by his former protegee, the title race could be blown wide open again as the Rekordmeister try to fend off the challenge from Borussia Dortmund.