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Profis 30.11.2023 - 10:40 Uhr

Fernandes: Hungrier than ever

The Swiss player put in his best performance of the season in Hoffenheim as part of the back four and wants to pick up as many points as possible with the team in the remaining four games before the winter break.

“Hungrier than ever”: Edimilson Fernandes shared a compilation of his best moments from the away game at TSG Hoffenheim on his Instagram account at the start of the week. It wouldn’t have been easy for him to choose just a handful of best moments given that the Swiss defender put in his best performance of the season as part of the back four in the 1-1 draw against TSG. He registered 20 successful defensive actions in total, a league-wide best, and set up Marco Richter’s goal for Mainz with a spectacular pass.

Fernandes’ ball sliced through Hoffenheim like a hot knife through butter and found its way through to Richter in the first half, leaving the summer signing with a clear path to goal as he put the 05ers ahead. It was a wonderful piece of play which looked as though it had been rehearsed beforehand. In the second half in particularly, the 05ers showed quality not only out of, but also in possession, that they have rarely displayed this season. Fernandes had a big role to play in that and regularly stepped out of the defensive line to help Mainz to progress the ball up the pitch. “It was already agreed with the coach that I could step into midfield when we’re in possession and take part in our build-up play. That worked well,” Fernandes told the press on Wednesday.

“This role suits me”

The slightly altered formation and the tactical approach adopted by head coach Jan Siewert suited the 27-year-old, who likes to have the ball and play football. “Against Hoffenheim, we had lots of players on the pitch who like to play that way. This allowed us to do well in possession.” Everything worked out well and it’s consequently certainly an option for the future, including the next game against Freiburg on Sunday (15:30 CET).

Fernandes, who was born in Sion, was originally deployed in midfield when he moved to Mainz from West Ham United in 2019. Things were difficult at first for Fernandes, partly due to the fact that the club itself was undergoing lots of changes at that moment. “By now I’ve adapted well to life here. I feel very comfortable with my family and hope that things continue like this. That's why I also extended my contract.” Fernandes returned to Mainz ahead of last season following loan spells with Arminia Bielefeld and Young Boys and it was only under Bo Svensson that things started to go in the right direction for him again. That was at centre-back, mostly as part of a back three. “This role also suits me,” added Fernandes, who is 1.90m. “I’ve felt very comfortable in this position and it’s worked well. I can also envisage playing in this position in the future.”

Bo Svensson’s departure was certainly a shock for him and the whole team. “Unfortunately, things like that sometimes happen so quickly in football. Jan then took over and he’s made sure that we’ve stayed focused on the basics.” Siewert has brought a lot of positive energy and “us players are trying to put in good performances on a game-by-game basis.”

Get the most out of each and every game

It’s also thanks to Fernandes that the 05ers are more solid at the back again and have only conceded one goal in the past three games. “That’s why we’ve been able to attack more, but there’s still room to improve.” FSV can also improve in terms of points given that, with just eight points from 12 games, Mainz are still in 16th position in the league standings and are therefore still in the midst of a relegation battle. The clear goal up until the end of year is to get the most out of each and every game: “We’ve got an important game at the weekend and we want to get all three points. Then, we’ve got another fixture and we aim to pick up as many points as possible.” 

While Fernandes’ short-term goals are clear, the 2024 EUROs in Germany looms in the more distant future. Switzerland have already qualified and the 27-year-old looks likely to feature. “It’s obviously quite special that the EUROs are taking place in Germany. My family can be there with me and watch the games. But that’s still a bit of a way away and I’m concentrating on club football for the time being. I hope that things continue to go well here. The team is really motivated at the moment and I know that we can push on now.”