In this data analysis piece, we will be seeing out for the center-backs to be looked out for that are currently playing in 2020 Allsvenskan. centre–backs in the modern game have evolved a lot. No longer we find them only defending and being part of the backline to defend. They play a huge role in the team’s attacking success too by starting attacks from the deep.
In our analysis, we will be considering both the attacking as well as defensive attributes. We will be looking at players who have registered at least 350 minutes of football in the league so far this season. We will shortlist the top options according to the statistics and data analysis. Let’s get into the analysis.
Defensive actions and interceptions
The defensive actions give us a good knowledge of a player’s defensive capability. Especially for a centre-back, it is important to deal with the threat of the opposition forwards. Coupled with the interceptions per 90 stat, the effective plot between the two metrics can give us how well the player reads the defensive aspect of the game and nullifies threats.
Let’s look into some of the top-performing players in this category.
Leo Väisänen – 23-year-old centre-back from Elfsborg. Väisänen averages 12.25 successful defensive actions per 90 and 7.68 interceptions per 90 this season. On top of that, he has also won his duels at a rate of 63.79%.
Daniel Jarl – 28-year-old centre-back from Sirius. Jarl averages 11.42 successful defensive actions per 90 and 8.22 interceptions per 90 this season (highest among the centre-backs so far). He has also won his duels at a rate of 64.29%.
Ravy Tsouka – 25-year-old centre-back from Helsingborg`. Tsouka averages 11.77 successful defensive actions per 90 and 7.49 interceptions per 90 this season. He has also won his duels at a rate of 56.52%.
Eirik Haugan – 22-year-old from Östersunds FK. Haugan averages a very high 12.34 successful defensive actions per 90 and 6.91 interceptions per 90 this season. He has also won his duels at a very good rate of 69.12%.
Andreas Skovgaard – 23-year-old centre-back from Orebro SK. Skovgaard has recorded 10.38 successful defensive actions per 90 and 7.99 interceptions per 90 with an excellent duel win % of 70.59%.
The respective scores of these players based on our indexing are given below.
Defending and Aerial duels
Most of the teams these days still use long balls techniques to attack. So the ability to win an aerial duel against the opposition’s forward is a bonus. It also helps teams during set-pieces while defending. Center-backs especially have to deal with tall centre-forwards of the opposition who may possess a great threat aerially.
This section introduces a whole new lot of players that we haven’t seen in the previous section.
Daniel Granli – 26-year-old centre-back from AIK. Granli averages a league-high 10.83 def. duels/90 and 6.16 aerial duels/90.
Joakim Lindner – 29-year-old defender from Varbergs. Usually a defensive midfielder, he has been converted to a centre-back this season. Lindner averages 8.38 def. duels/90 and 7.57 aerial duels/90.
Robin Tihi – 18-year-old centre-back from AIK. The teenager has recorded 9.67 def. duels/90 and 5.76 aerial duels/90.
Henrik Löfkvist – 25-year-old centre-back from Kalmar. He has averaged 8.84 def. duels/90 and a good amount of 6.13 aerial duels/90.
Lasse Nielsen – 32-year-old centre-back from Malmo FF. The veteran has averaged 6.26 def. duels/90 and 8.61 aerial duels/90 in the early part of this season.
The scores for the player in this section given below.
The combined scores over the first two discussed sections are given below.
Modern-day centre-backs are widely rated upon their ability to perform with the ball. Top teams across Europe like Manchester City, Liverpool, etc all have quality ball-playing centre-backs with them. Their ability to break the press of the opposition acts a first step towards building up to a goal.
Let’s look into some of the top players here:
Filip Dagerstål – 23-year-old centre-back from Norrkoping. He has been one of the best ball-playing CBs in the Allsvenskan this season. He has recorded 79.75 passes/90 with 8.62 of them being to the final third. His passing accuracy to get the ball into the final 3rd is outstanding at 83.54%.
Karol Mets – 27-year-old centre-back from AIK. He has recorded 56.95 passes/90 with 9.71 of them being to the final third. His final 3rd pass accuracy is 74.16%.
Joseph Okumu – 23-year-old centre-back from Elfsborg. He has recorded 48.93 passes/90 with 10.38 (highest) of them being to the final third. His final 3rd pass accuracy is 57.14%. Though he has attempted less passes when compared with the other defenders, almost 25% of his passes have been forward ones showing his progressive nature.
Anel Ahmedhodžić – 21-year-old defender from Malmo FF. He has recorded 63.07 passes/90 with 7.86 of them being to the final third. His final 3rd pass accuracy is 82.67%, which is a great stat.
The likes of L. Nielsen and Skovgaard have also been good on the ball this season. Nielsen has recorded 59.48 passes with 8.14 of them being into the final 3rd also with good accuracy of 84.62%. On the other hand, Skovgaard has 50.33 passes with 7.19 of them being into the final 3rd with an accuracy of 55.56%.
The scores for this section are given below.
The combined scores over the last 3 sections are given below.
Apart from playing passes into the final 3rd for the team, a defender needs to play passes that allow his team to penetrate through defensive lines.
Let’s see into some new names.
Jesper Tolinsson – 17-year-old from Göteborg. Tolinsson is one of the youngest players in the league and has so far had a good start to the campaign. He has made 0.46 smart passes/90 and 26.14 forward passes/90.
Jesper Löfgren – 23-year-old from Mjällby. He has attempted 0.63 (highest) smart passes/90 and 19.01 forward passes/90.
Benjamin Hjertstrand – 26-year-old from Orebro SK. He has recorded 0.45 smart passes/90 and 24.34 forward passes/90.
Among the familiar names, Ahmedhozdic has averaged 0.42 smart passes/90 and 25.36 forward passes/90. E. Haugan has also been one among the top passers having recorded 0.43 smart passes/90 and 22.98 forward passes/90. Daniel Granli has averaged 0.56 smart passes/90 and 13.63 forward passes/90, which is although quite low when compared with the rest.
The scores for this category are given below.
The combined scores of all players up until this section is given below.
In this section, we’ll analyze the list of defenders we have based on a tendency to move the ball forward and also their ability to progress the attack.
Let’s look into some new choices here.
André Calisir – 30-year-old defender from Göteborg. He has averaged 10.23 progressive passes/90 and 2.27 progressive runs/90.
Erik Berg – 31-year-old centre-back from Djurgarden. He has averaged 7.89 progressive passes/90 and 2.74 progressive runs/90 (highest in the league).
Hjalmar Ekdal – 21-year-old defender from IK Sirius. He has recorded 10.62 progressive passes/90 and 1.98 progressive runs/90.
Martin Olsson – 32-year-old centre-back from Helsingborg. He has recorded 10.08 progressive passes/90 and 1.82 progressive runs/90.
Mads Fenger – 29-year-old CB from Hammarby. He has recorded 10.08 progressive passes/90 and 1.82 progressive runs/90.
The scores for the players in this section is as follows:
The updated list of scores is in the below image.
Another important component in the attacking set of attributes. Defenders these days are required to beat their markers and carry the ball forward to under pressure. This helps a team to clear dangers within their own third.
Sander van Looy – 23-year-old Dutch defender from Falkenberg. He has averaged 1.99 dribbles/90 with very good accuracy of 64.71%. He has also won 3.87 offensive duels/90.
Hampus Zackrisson – 25-year-old from Varbergs. He has recorded 1.07 dribbles/90 with good accuracy of 77.78%. He has also recorded 2.03 offensive duels/90.
Among the already discussed players, Haugan has averaged 0.96 dribbles/90 with an accuracy of 88.89%. Also, he has won 2.66 offensive duels/90. Ravy Tsouka has averaged 2.27 dribbles/90 with an accuracy of 52.94%. Also, he has won 4.01 offensive duels/90. Joseph Okumu has also averaged good stats here where he has averaged 1.63 dribbles/90 with an accuracy of 63.64%.
The combined scores after this section:-
Teams like Real Madrid and Liverpool have thrived on the attacking contributions from their defenders. Players like Sergio Ramos have made vital contributions like in the 2014 UCL final to eventually guide Real to their 10th UCL title. So, defenders are a definite goal-threat in the modern games during set-pieces.
So far in this season, R. Lauritsen from Norrkoping and V. Elm from Kalmar has been the most threatening among the centre-backs this season. Both of them have averaged an xG of 0.16 per 90. Closely following them behind is Joona Toivio, from Hacken, who has 0.14 expected goal-contribution/90. Rounding the top-5, we have Fidan Kaliti from Kalmar and Tobias Karlsson from Falkenbergs at 0.11 xG. There are quite a good amount of other defenders who have been good at giving goal-threats for the opposition so far this season.
The updated combined score after including this section is given below.
Since it’s very early into the season we cannot judge who has been the best player this season at this stage. So we’ll look into a couple of players who we might have to look into and who are currently on the course of having a great season. After aggregating the scores we can see that Joseph Okumu has so far stood out among the rest so far. He is a young centre-back who has a lot of years left before entering his prime years. After having joined Elfsborg last year and making very few appearances, he has made himself as one of the first names on the sheet with some consistent performances. Following him on the list is Mjallby’s Jesper Löfgren, who has also started well this season. Like the former, Löfgren too is young and is an exciting prospect to be looked out for.
There are other teams like Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham are in the market for a new centre-back. Apart from these two, we have also had the likes of Ravy Tsouka and Filip Dagerstål to watch out for as they are also young and have started well this season. Further detailed scout, over the season, about them, could give a more tactical viewpoint of their game and list their strengths and weaknesses. Again the thing to be noted is that it’s very early to say about the best defender in the league. This piece was to identify the defenders to be put in the spotlight based on their early performances. Over the course of the season, there is a possibility that the list might also tend to change with some new arrivals at the top of the pile.
The Allsvenskan possess some fine young centre-backs and also some entering their prime years. In this analysis, we have picked some of the in-form centre-backs who have started their 2020 campaign on a strong note. It’s important to monitor their progress over the season, which will give us a conclusion about the best centre-backs in the league at the end.