Silvan Widmer est le plus souvent choisi par Murat Yakin. Comme ici, lors d’Angleterre-Suisse à Wembley, où il était titulaire.

Football: Did Silvan Widmer regulate the competition on the right?

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The Argovian, author of a full season at Mainz, is full of confidence. The duel with Kevin Mbabu in the side position seems to have turned to his advantage.

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Valentine Schnorch

(Bad Ragaz)

Silvan Widmer is most often chosen by Murat Yakin. Like here during England-Switzerland at Wembley where he started.

fresh focus

There was undoubtedly a turning point in the recent history of the Swiss team: the 3-0 defeat by Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in their second EURO game. Dry cleaning. Logic. The selection, then led by Vladimir Petkovic, went straight into the wall. The ASF experts are already working behind the scenes on the future. At that moment, the last stand of the former head of the national team began. With two “victims”: Fabian Schär and Kevin Mbabu, defending champions in the first two encounters. And since everything was beautifully linked, Steven Zuber and Silvan Widmer were never challenged again.

The second also drew some credits. In particular due to his performances in the three duels after the European Championship, the right side managed to open the gates to the Bundesliga with Mainz. The 29-year-old from Aargau is now living his fairy tale: “I had a very positive season, maybe the best I’ve played in my career,” he agrees. I played all the league games except the last one because I was a bit ill. Just that. Also with rather flattering stats: he has scored four goals and provided five assists in each of his appearances.

The comparison with Mbabu

“The trainer (Editor’s note: Bo Svensson) pushed me from day one, he trusted me immediately, says the ex-Basel. We play football that suits my qualities, with very intensive runs and flanks that have to be offensive.” With his 3-5-2 system, in which Widmer therefore occupies the right lane, Mainz ended the season on an honorable note eighth place in the Bundesliga. This contrasts with the twelfth place of a Wolfsburg player, where Kevin Mbabu was reduced to a very sporadic role until he hardly played at the end of the season.

Because at a time when the Swiss team is preparing for four important Nations League games (in the Czech Republic, Portugal and against Spain and Portugal), the comparison is essential. Is there still competition for the right-back position in the Swiss team? As the chart above shows, Mbabu doesn’t have to be ashamed of his performances in the Bundesliga. At least statistically given his relatively meager playing time (Widmer played more than twice as many minutes).

In the national team, however, Silvan Widmer has started eight times since Murat Yakin took office, of the ten games that Petkovic’s successor officiated. Only last March he missed against Kosovo. Yakin once preferred Mbabu when he was available: in a qualifier against Northern Ireland (2-0) in Geneva in October. And against Bulgaria, in their 4-0 World Cup qualifier, the manager had decided to line the two up, with Widmer positioned at left-back. The kind of item that can’t be taken out?

“There is competition with Kevin Mbabu. Kevin is a very good player, he has already proven that.

Silvan Widmer, right-back for the Swiss national team

“There is competition with Kevin Mbabu,” says Widmer. Kevin is a very good player, he has already proven that. We both play in the Bundesliga and both have shown that we can play at a high level. But it is clear that everyone wants to play in the national team. And I think that with these four upcoming games everyone can show their qualities. In fact, a distribution of roles between the player trained in Aarau and Servette, who grew up, is to be expected. According to what criteria? “We have a slightly different profile,” remarks the first. Kevin is a bit stronger physically, I am tactically. But I focus on myself to keep doing better.”

“An important role”

With 29 and 28 international matches, Silvan Widmer exudes self-confidence. Until arrival in the Swiss team with certainties. A far cry from his status as a perennial comer, which had resulted in him being left out of the selection twice at worst. For both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, Petkovic actually gave up on him when it was necessary to reduce the list to 23 selected. Such mishaps shouldn’t happen to him again: “I’m happy to finally play an important role in the national team, it’s always been a dream of mine,” he says. I’ve had difficult times in the past. But things have been going well for two years. And I’m just proud to be a part of it.”

Everything is easier to live when you feel taken care of. Especially since Yakin has him to thank for a proud candle, it is also thanks to Silvan Widmer that he was able to lead Switzerland to the World Cup. His famous goal in Italy made Switzerland believe in a direct qualification. Hey, it was at the Olimpico too.


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