Brann travelled to Stabaek on Monday evening looking to earn a first victory under new manager Kåre Ingebrigtsen. This was just the second game in charge for the former Manchester City player, his first game having ended in a 1-0 defeat to relegation candidates Mjøndalen. Stabaek were also looking to resume winning way having not tasted victory for five games, and having not won at the Nadderud Stadion since early July.
This tactical analysis will look at the tactics employed by both Stabaek and Molde in this match. The analysis will focus on Brann’s attempt at a high-press, their use of full-back’s in attack, and Stabaek’s attacking rotations.
Stabaek manager Jan Jönsson made 3 changes from the side that drew 3-3 with Viking. His team switching to a 4-4-1-1 with Marcus Sandberg starting in goal. Jørgen Olsen Øveraas started at right-back, with Mats Solheim and Andreas Hanche-Olsen the centre-backs, and Peder Vogt at left-back. Tortol Lumanza and Emil Bohinen (who has been linked with EPL side Sheffield United and EFL Championship winner Leeds) operated as the pivot midfielders with Erik Botheim playing ahead of them as a number 10. Oliver Edvardsen and Hugo Vetlesen were the right and left-wingers, with Kosuke Kinoshita coming in to play as the centre-forward.
Ingebrigtsen was forced into making a change to his side for his second match in charge, his Brann team lining up in a 4-1-4-1 with Markus Pettersen coming in for his first start of the season in goal after Håkon Opdal picked up an injury in the warm-up. Jon-Helga Tveita started at right-back, with Ole Kolskogen and Vegard Forren the centre-backs, and Thomas Grøgaard at left-back. Daniel Pedersen anchored the midfield trio with Fredrik Haugen to his right, and Petter Strand to his left. Gilbert Koomson and Robert Taylor started as the right and left-wingers, with Daouda Bamba leading the line.
Stabaek started the game on top, winning an early corner from which they hit the post. The rest of the first half went by with little goalmouth action with Brann’s press helping them stop Stabaek’s early momentum.
Brann pressed high when Stabaek aimed to build from the back with the two more offensive-minded central midfielders pushing onto the Stabaek’s central defenders as shown below.
The two wingers of Brann pushed onto Stabaek’s full-backs when the ball was played wide, and Daouda Bamba (circled blue) dropped back and screened any pass into Stabaek’s two pivot midfielders.
This well-structured press forced Stabaek into often playing back to their goalkeeper who would kick long and allow Brann to turn over the possession. To try combat this, one of Stabaek’s central midfield players, Bohinen and Lumanza, started to drop deeper in between the centre back’s and offer an extra passing option.
Whilst this meant that Bohinen was less of an influence in the attacking sense, the change necessitated one of Brann’s midfield players to follow their Stabaek counterpart, thus changing Brann’s pressing structure. As can be seen above, Bamba now pressed the centre back’s along with Doomson, leaving one of Brann’s central midfielders simply marking space. With Doomson pushing onto the centre back, Stabaek’s goalkeeper was afforded to opportunity to pass to the unmarked left-back.
This pressing structure proved far less effective for Brann and allowed Stabaek to progress the play more easily for the remainder of the first half. Ingebrigtsen was able to address this problem at half time, bringing Kristoffer Barmen on to replace Fredrik Haugen and changing the pressing structure once more.
As we can see, Bamba is now occupying one of the centre-backs whilst the other centre-back is pressed by Brann central midfielder Strand. Barmen is tasked with man-marking Bohinen, and the Brann wingers again press the full-backs. This change of the pressing structure forces Stabaek into once again playing long and allowing a turnover of possession.
After taking the lead, and with Stabaek playing more direct, Brann didn’t press with the same intensity in the final half-hour, instead choosing to sit back and play on the counter-attack.
Stabaek’s front four
Upon the announcement of Stabaek’s lineup, it was initially unclear what tactics they would be incorporating, though it quickly became clear as play began that the four ahead of the central midfielders would act as a dynamic front line. The next part of this analysis will look at the rotations between the front four, and why they failed to create big chances.
Having worked out how to beat the press, Stabaek began to get the ball forward into their attacking players with more regularity during the latter part of the first half. The front four regularly interchanged positions in order to lose their markers. A common tactic was for Kinoshita to drop deeper into the space between the Brann defensive and midfield lines, whilst Botheim made the run beyond him.
The above image shows one of several occasions where this paid dividends. Stabaek were in an unstructured defensive shape having just lost possession. Kinoshita dropped in to receive the pass whilst Botheim made the run beyond him. The Brann defender is unable to follow the striker all the way as he is worried about the threat posed by Botheim’s run. This allowed Kinoshita to gain unpressured possession and progress the attack.
The Stabaek striker plays the ball wide to Edvardsen and arcs his run to provide an overlapping option. Edvardsen uses this run to drive inside the full-back, into the space between him and the retreating centre-back. On the other side of the pitch, Vetlesen comes inside from the left flank drawing Brann’s right-back with him whilst Botheim drifts out into the unguarded space towards the left corner of the penalty area.
These synchronised movements ultimately create an abundance of space for Botheim on the edge of the penalty area. This sort of scenario, however, is where Stabaek disappointed for the entirety of the match. Edvardsen does not see the pass, and instead simply shoots into a crowd of Brann defenders, the shot easily blocked.
When forced to go a little more direct Kinoshita became a useful focal point for Stabaek, winning five of his 14 aerial duels. Kinoshita often positioned himself on either flank, away from Brann’s dominant central defenders. This allowed for either Edvardsen or Vetlessen to leave the wing and come inside, again forcing Brann’s defenders to decide whether to follow their men or keep their shape and hand the men over to their positional markers. Botheim was often the chief beneficiary of such situations, moving into the space created by the movement of his three fellow attackers, though his teammates were often unable to find him.
The fluidity of Stabaek’s front four continued to create dangerous situations for themselves, though a lack of decision making and, at times, the quality left them unable to turn these opportunities into big chances. A change in personnel during the second half saw Vetlesen drop back into a central midfield position and Stabaek’s attack suffered. Whilst there was still rotation amongst the front line after this change of tactics, this seemed more like a lack of coordination between the new players when the exact opposite had been true earlier on in the game.
Brann’s full-backs in attack
Brann also struggled to create many goalscoring chances, particularly in the first half. Wyscout cited that a whopping 91% of Brann’s attacks were focused in the central channel, which tells the story of why their danger man, Gilbert Koomson, was relatively quiet.
Brann’s main attacking shape was dictated by their full-backs, and it was interesting that Ingebrigtsen chose to operate with one inverted full-back (Tveita) whilst the other was the only real Brann player to provide any sort of width. The plan was presumably to allow Koomson space on the right flank, though Brann were ineffective at making use of such possibilities. On the left flank, Brann had a little more success in creating overlaps as Robert Taylor cut inside onto his stronger right foot.
The below image shows Tveita in full flight during one of several infield runs he made during the first half.
In the next instance, Tveita continues to drive towards the penalty area, ensuring that the Stabaek centre-back has to commit and leave Fredrik Haugen unmarked on the flank. The pass goes to Haugen whose quick attempt at a cross is poor. The green arrows suggest a better method for attack using the inverted full-back. If Haugen runs infield, the Stabaek centre-back is left with a decision to make between closing down the possessor or following the run. Either way, Koomson is free to make a curved run down the outside and receive the ball in space. Being a more natural winger than Haugen, Koomson is much more likely to create a goalscoring opportunity from this area.
The below image shows the marked contrast in Brann’s full-back’s positioning in attack.
The left-back, Grøgaard, maintains a wide position constantly looking for the opportunity to play a one-two and make an overlapping run as marked. Tveita (also circled yellow) has again made an inverted run in an attempt to leave an isolated space in the attacking right flank. Brann’s left-winger, Taylor, is also circled (blue) in the image to show that he is allowed to roam from his position knowing that the left-back will be providing adequate width.
The tactics of Brann are interesting and are seemingly an attempt to get each of their wingers into a position where they can prove most dangerous – Koomson 1v1 with the opposite full-back, Taylor being allowed to roam inside – though in this match they resulted in Brann simply attacking too much in the central area and being crowded out.
With Brann leading, Tveita very rarely made the same inverted runs during the second half, keeping his width on the odd occasion he did join the attack. Grøgaard, however, continued to join the attack regularly. The below image shows one of several occasions where he offered good overlapping options for Taylor, the Brann winger becoming a growing influence during the second half having got his goal.
Despite this attacking support, Brann created very little from crosses into the box, their sole attacking threat coming from counter-attacks during the second half.
Brann just about deserved to win this low-quality contest, for all a two-goal margin flatters them. Ingebrigtsen will be happy to get his first win since taking over, though there is still plenty for him to work on. Brann showed signs of the identity their new manager is trying to instil but it will likely be next season before we see them truly playing the Ingebrigtsen way.
Stabaek continue out of sorts and must be starting to look over their shoulder now with the danger of being sucked into the Eliteserien relegation scrap a real possibility. They created very little from open play, and it will be interesting to see whether they stick with these tactics or revert to their familiar 4-3-3 system for their next match, this tactical analysis having offered some encouragement should they persevere with the dynamic front four.