As the author of a full season at Mainz, the Argovian is full of confidence. The duel with Kevin Mbabu in the side position seems to have turned in his favor.
- by means of
- Valentin Schnorhk
In the recent history of the Swiss national team, there was undoubtedly a turning point: the 3-0 defeat to Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in the second match of the European Championship. Dry cleaning. Logic. The selection led by Vladimir Petkovic then went straight into the wall. Behind the scenes, ASF’s experts were already working on the future. The last stand of the former boss of the national team started at that time. With two “victims”: Fabian Schär and Kevin Mbabu, holders during the first two meetings. And since everything was beautifully connected, Steven Zuber and Silvan Widmer were never challenged again.
The second has also drawn some credit. It is mainly on the basis of his performances in the three encounters that followed the European Championship that the right side was able to open the doors of the Bundesliga with Mainz. The 29-year-old from Aargau is now living his fairytale: “I’ve had a very positive season, perhaps the best I’ve played in my career, he agrees. I played all the league games, except the last one, because I was a little sick. Only that. With rather flattering stats as well: Holder in each of his appearances, he scored four goals and provided five assists.
The comparison with Mbabu
“The Coach (Editor’s Note: Bo Svensson) pushed me from day one, he trusted me immediately, details the ex-Basel. We play football that suits my qualities, with very intense runs and exteriors that have to be attacking. With its 3-5-2 system, with Widmer occupying the right lane, Mainz finished the season in an honorable eighth place in the Bundesliga. This is in contrast to the twelfth rank of a Wolfsburg where Kevin Mbabu was reduced to a very intermittent role, until he almost stopped playing at the end of the season.
Parce qu’à l’heure où l’équipe de Suisse s’apprête à disputer quatre matches importants de Ligue des nations (en République tchèque, au Portugal et contre l’Espagne et le Portugal), la comparaison s’impose d’elle -same. Is there still competition for the position of right back in the Swiss national team? In the Bundesliga, as can be seen from the chart above, Mbabu should not be ashamed of his performance. At least statistically his relatively meager playing time (Widmer played more than double the minutes).
Still, Silvan Widmer has started eight times in the national team since Murat Yakin took office, out of ten games led by successor Petkovic. He was only absent against Kosovo last March. On one occasion, Yakin preferred Mbabu over him when he was still available: during the qualifier against Northern Ireland (2-0) in Geneva in October. And against Bulgaria, for the 4-0 World Cup qualifying win, the coach had decided to align the two, with Widmer as the left-back. The kind of element that can’t get out?
“There is competition with Kevin Mbabu,” Widmer softens. Kevin is a very good player, he has already proven that. We both play in the Bundesliga and we have both shown that we are capable of performing at a high level. But it is clear that in the national team everyone wants to play. And I think with these four games coming up, everyone can show their qualities. Indeed, we should expect a division of roles between the player who was trained in Aarau and the one who grew up in Servette. Based on which criteria? “We have a slightly different profile, the first observes. Kevin is a little stronger physically, I am tactically. But I focus on myself, to always do better.”
“An important role”
With 29 and 28 caps, Silvan Widmer exudes confidence. To the point of getting into the Swiss team with certainties. Far from his status as a perpetual follower, which saw him knocked out of the roster twice at the worst of times. Indeed, for both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, it was when it was necessary to narrow the list down to twenty-three selected that Petkovic gave him up. The kind of accident that should never happen to him again: “I’m happy to finally play an important role in the national team, it’s always been a dream for me,” he says. I’ve had hard times in the past. But it’s been going well for two years now. And I’m just proud to be a part of that.”
Everything is easier to live with when you feel weighed down. Especially since Yakin owes him a proud candle, as it is also thanks to Silvan Widmer that he was able to lead Switzerland to the World Cup. His famous goal in Italy allowed Switzerland to believe in direct qualification. Hey, there it was in the Olimpico too.