Professional football is full of highly talented people who never soar. The squad of SV Darmstadt 98 has also been home to two candidates for years, who can do an enormous amount, but hardly or rarely show this. Two professionals whose game inspires and eases, because they know how to guide the ball closely and pass cleverly even at top speed.
Two professionals, who have often enough put the patience of the "Lilien" fans to a hard test with their tendency to lose the ball, without visibly resisting it in unity with a despondent body language. Two long-time sons of the club, but they often seemed lost. We are talking about the offensive players Mathias Honsak and Marvin Mehlem. Who have gone from talented protagonists from often sad figures to leading actors, even guarantors of the never-ending "lilies" high.
Mehlem, who missed only one of 21 matchdays (due to a yellow card) in the Darmstadt starting line-up, has been performing consistently well since the start of the season. Honsak, who missed the entire first half of the season injured, with strong performances in a row in the second half with four Darmstadt wins from four games. The Baden Mehlem (since 2017 in the club, contract until mid-2025) has found measure and center in his game, has overcome his tendency to tap into every performance hole. How on the one hand he got consistency into his formerly fluttery game and did not suppress his free-spirited zest for action, but enriched it with seriousness, makes him a central figure at the SVD.
The Austrian Honsak (with the club since 2019, contract expires this summer) has brought his skills back to the pitch surprisingly quickly after the month-long forced break. In his many good moments, there is something irresistible, even unstoppable, about the pace and dynamism of his advances. Before the second league summit meeting this Saturday evening (20.30 in the F.A.Z. live ticker for the Bundesliga, on Sky and Sport1) at the Böllenfalltor against Hamburger SV, both are in top form. "Honsi and Marvin master things on the court that others can't or don't dare. But they always know that they are allowed to make mistakes," says sports director Carsten Wehlmann in an interview with the F.A.Z..
The feel-good climate for two players, which is already pronounced during a successful series, is even stronger in Darmstadt. "We were and are convinced of them because we know about their qualities. The two feel the trust they need from the coach and in the club," says Wehlmann. "The guys can develop with us and can rely on the fact that if there are wave troughs in their performances, they will be compensated." The belief in the two technicians had certainly also been shaken by the SVD managers sometimes, when the two wanted to succeed almost nothing during their time of use, they lined up ball losses and wrong decisions.
Now most dribbles (Honsak) and risk passes (Mehlem) succeed. "During their time in Darmstadt, both have become more mature and mature in their personalities, and see some things more consciously. This is also part of the development process," says Wehlmann, who has a special connection to Honsak. The North German had lured the former Austrian U-21 international during his time in Kiel to Holstein in the second German league. On loan from RB Salzburg. One season later, when Wehlmann had hired in southern Hesse, the move to SV 98 followed for a handsome transfer fee of allegedly around 750,000 euros. "He can make the difference in games," Wehlmann said.
Especially since Honsak suddenly seems to have cured his previously great weakness, the goal completion (never more than five goals in nine professional seasons). He recently scored two goals in Sandhausen (4:0), two in the cup at Eintracht (2:4) and another goal against Braunschweig (2:1) – in Rostock (1:0) only the great parade of the opposing goalkeeper stood in his way after a technically remarkable solo. Against HSV, Darmstadt's plan will also be to position Honsak, who has never been so agile in three and a half Darmstadt years. And to let Mehlem draw his curls and circles, which a freedom-loving kicker like him uses more strongly for the benefit of the "lilies" than ever before.