Widmer: “I fit in so well here”
The 29-year-old Swiss has more than exceeded expectations in his first season at Mainz. His style of play fits perfectly with the club’s philosophy and the Switzerland international feels “at home” in the capital of Rhineland-Palatinate.
Silvan Widmer has undoubtedly been one of Mainz’s signings of the season. The 29-year-old Switzerland international, who shone at last year’s European Championship, has made a great impression in the Bundesliga this season. Widmer, who signed from FC Basel last summer, set high standards from the get go and has been one of Bo Svensson’s key players this campaign.
Widmer played a crucial role in Mainz’s victory at the Olympiastadion last time out. The right-winger scored the opening goal in the 2-1 win over Hertha and helped The Zerofivers end their long wait for an away win. It was just the third time this season that Mainz have won on the road. “We beat Bayern the week before and generally, when you’ve won or have played well, the mood is a bit more relaxed throughout the week. Nevertheless, a lot is expected of us in training and that’s still the case in the last week of the season. Our coach is meticulous in what he does. When we step out onto the training pitch, he demands 100% and I think that’s class,” said Widmer ahead of the final game of the season against Eintracht on Saturday (15:30 CEST).
The goal on Saturday is clear. Mainz want to end the season on a high and take all three points against Eintracht. “We still have something to prove. They beat us 1-0 back in December and even though it was a close game, we left Frankfurt empty-handed. In that sense, we have unfinished business and we want to be able to celebrate the end of the season with the fans. The way we can do that is by winning the game.” Eintracht also have the small matter of a Europa League final against Rangers on the horizon, which adds another layer of excitement to Saturday’s game.
Happy with his first season as a Zerofiver
Widmer still expects a tough test against Eintracht, despite the fact that they may have bigger things on their mind: “From experience, I can say that these things are often in the back of your mind as a player. It would also make sense if they don’t give it absolutely 100%, so they don’t risk picking up injuries. However, I still expect to come up against a well- drilled side that will work hard,” he said. He continued: “We are always prepared to face the best possible side and we know that we will have to give it our all in order to pick up the three points.”
Widmer has demanded everything of himself throughout the season. He has featured in all 33 of Mainz’s league matches so far this campaign and has played the most minutes of any Mainz player. “I am more than satisfied with how much I have played this season and it’s flattering how much trust the coach has put in me. I have often repaid that trust with good performances. There have been games in which I haven’t played too well but the coach has always stuck by me. I am very grateful for that. It has been a very positive season for me in that sense.”
Fighting hard and running hard
Widmer’s goal in Berlin was his fourth of the season. He has also picked up five assists so far this campaign. “Nine direct goal contributions is pretty good for a wide player but double figures would be even better. That’s my aim for the last game; to get another assist or another goal. They are decent numbers but there is always room for improvement. I will be looking to improve next season,” he said. When the Swiss arrived at the Bruchweg, he was determined to deliver: “I knew that we would play with three at the back and that I would be allowed to push forwards. In this sort of system, it is important to deliver good numbers. This is how you are measured and I would say it has worked out pretty well.”
Widmer’s statistics, however, are certainly better than just pretty good. Widmer has made the most intensive runs of any player in the Bundesliga this season and is well ahead of Hoffenheim’s David Raum, who is in second place. In terms of sprints it is the other way around, with Raum in first and Widmer in second. The Swiss believes that these statistics say a lot about him as a player: “They show that I am a player who thrives on physicality. I assess myself and I know that I have to give it 100% in every game so I can contribute to the team,” said Widmer, who believes that the coaches at Mainz also deserve a lot of credit. “Since my arrival I have felt really good and I have come through the season without picking up an injury.” Widmer also recognises that these statistics are also a reflection of Svensson’s playing philosophy. “I am not a bad player technically but I know that I can really make a difference through my runs and my sprints,” said the 29-year-old. He continued: “Technically we are a decent team but we are certainly not the most talented. That means we have to fight and run even harder than everyone else. In that sense, I fit in so well here.”
Healthy competition in the coming season
Mainz have also dramatically improved their game with the ball this season. The defender believes this is important, especially when his team are leading, as when the opponents have to chase after the ball, it makes them more tired and demotivates them. Mainz have also identified areas in which they need to improve next season. An important area, according to Widmer, is consistency, especially away from home. “That is probably the most important area. The goal has to be to play as well on the road as we do at the MEWA ARENA. You could say that we have been unlucky at times this season, in that we haven’t come out on top in the tight away games. It doesn’t take anything too drastic to improve on this,” he said. “Everyone just needs to be a bit more confident away from home. You have to support each other more away from home because the fans aren’t on your side. It has to come from the team and each individual has to step up.”
Widmer also believes that increased competition next season should not be seen as a bad thing. He will, for example, have to compete with the likes of Danny da Costa, who is returning to Mainz from Frankfurt. “I think it’s great. Healthy competitions means you cannot afford to rest and you need to perform well in every training session. You have to make a good impression on the coach. I am looking forward to the competition with Danny. I spoke with him after the Bayern game and there certainly aren’t any problems there.”
A happy camp
Widmer has lived in Mainz for almost a year and feels right at home. “I can quite simply say that I feel very comfortable at Mainz. I enjoy coming to training every single day and I am so glad that I decided to come here.” He also believes that his life hasn’t changed too much since his time in Basel: “Sure, I lived at home for three years and of course I miss my friends, but because I like it here so much, things balance out.”
The Switzerland international also believes he has a good relationship with the coaching staff, which is based on being fair, direct and honest with each other. “I prefer it like that. It is good to have criticism. The dialogue within the camp is great. We have some big characters and things are said how they are if someone doesn’t like something. Everyone is allowed to have their say. It doesn’t matter if they are 18 or 33. Everyone can say their piece and then we talk things through.”
Everyone is allowed to have their say. It doesn’t matter if they are 18 or 33.
Next up for Widmer is a local derby in front of a packed MEWA ARENA. “I am expecting a great atmosphere. We will be ready from the first whistle and we will give it everything to get the three points. We are ready what will happen afterwards.”