In this data analysis piece, we will be looking out for the best full-backs currently playing in Superliga. Full-backs in the modern game have evolved a lot. No longer we find full-back only defending and being part of the back-line. A lot of them are given the license to go forward and be a major creative threat.
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 900 minutes of football in the league this season. Wing-backs are also considered since they function similar to that of a full-back.
We will shortlist the best options according to the statistics and tactical analysis. A brief description of the player and how he helps his team tactically will also be acknowledged. 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 full-back, it is important to deal with the threat of the opposition wingers. 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.
Based on the score calculated, which is the area under the graph, we handpick the top 6 players.
Alexander Bah – The 22-year-old homegrown player from SønderjyskE. Bah, a winger, has been deployed by manager Glen Riddershlom as a right wing-back or a right-back. He has been defensively sound by winning the most number of defensive actions, 12.95. He has also won 6.68 interceptions/90. He has also won 62.28% of his duels.
Stefan Gartenmann – 23-year-old from SønderjyskE. Primarily a left-back, he has also played as a center-back this season. He has averaged 10.85 successful defensive actions/90 and 6.98 interceptions/90. He also has a good duels win rate of 67.74%.
Kevin Diks – 23-year-old right-back from Aarhus GF. He has averaged 12.48 successful defensive action/90 and 5.88 interceptions/90. He has also won his duels at a rate of 61.22%.
Kasper Jørgensen – 20-year-old full-back from Lyngby BK. He has been deployed as a left-back and also as a right-back. He has averaged 11.58 successful defensive action/90 and 6.3 interceptions/90. He has also won his duels at a rate of 60.38%.
Matthias Rasmussen – 22-year-old left-back from Nordsjælland. The young fullback has averaged 10.99 successful defensive action/90 and 5.63 interceptions/90. He has also won his duels at a rate of 63%.
Oliver Lund – 29-year-old from Odense Boldklub. The experienced full-back has been deployed in both the flanks, also a wing-back when OB switches to 3 at the back system. He has averaged 10.74 successful defensive action/90 and 5.5 interceptions/90. He has also won his duels at a rate of 60.28%.
The scores of these listed players concerning this metric are given in the table 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.
We can find a lot of familiar names in the above chart’s top-right quadrant. We will discuss them after we list out some new inclusions.
Kevin Conboy – 32-year-old left-back from Esbjerg. The veteran has averaged 6.36 defensive duels/90 and 5.83 aerial duels/90. He has also won his aerial duels at a rate of 54.55%.
Anthony Jung – 28-year-old left-back from Brondby. He has averaged 7.41 defensive duels/90 and 3.63 aerial duels/90. He has also won his aerial duels at a rate of 61.96%, which is at a very good rate. He has also been deployed as a wing-back.
Jeppe Brinch – 25-year-old right-back from Esbjerg. He has averaged 6.95 defensive duels/90 and 3.72 aerial duels/90. He has also won his aerial duels at a rate of just 49.18%. He has also been deployed as a left-back.
Now let’s analyze the players we have already seen in the previous sections. Oliver Lund has won 7.88 aerial duels, more than any other full-back in the league, and also has attempted 7.46 defensive duels. He also records an aerial duel win rate of 58.39%, a very good measure considering the number of duels he attempts. Alexander Bah is second on the list with an average aerial duels/90 of 4.71, at a low rate of 41.03%. He has attempted the most number of defending duels/90 for a full-back with 9.17. Matthias Rasmussen has won 6.54 defensive duels and 4.19 aerial duels at a rate of 57.81%. Kevin Diks has won 8.73 defending duels and 5.88 aerial duels with a success rate of 57.58%.
The player’s scores for this metric are given in the table below.
The aggregated scores after combining the scores from this section and the previous section are given below. The top 6 players so far have been listed.
In this section, we’ll analyze the list of full-backs we have based on a tendency to move the ball forward and also their ability to progress the attack.
A lot of new names are appearing in this section. Let’s start with them and then analyze the ones we have already seen.
Guillermo Varela – 27-year-old right-back from Copenhagen. Varela has been a consistent performer of Copenhagen this season and has been key to their style of play. He has averaged 9.72 progressive passes/90 and 3.16 progressive runs/90 (most in the league). He has also made 0.52 key passes/90.
Karlo Bartolec – 25-year-old right-back from Copenhagen. Another Copenhagen in the list, certainly not the last. Bartolec has largely been the second choice to Varela this season but has stepped up well in his absence. He has averaged 10.51 progressive passes/90 and 2.9 progressive runs/90. He has also made 0.64 key passes/90.
Pierre Bengtsson – 32-year-old left-back from Copenhagen. The veteran has averaged 10.6 progressive passes/90 and 2.4 progressive runs/90. He has also made 0.42 key passes/90.
Mathias Haarup – 24-year-old right-back from Hobro IK. He has averaged only 7.52 progressive passes/90 which is less than the league average. But he has managed 2.87 progressive runs/90, showing his ability to make forward runs and support his team in the attacking phase. He has also made 0.34 key passes/90.
Kristoffer Pallesen – 30-year-old from Aalborg BK. He has averaged 9.63 progressive passes/90 and 2.09 progressive runs/90. He has also made 0.61 key passes/90, proving to be a creative outlet of his team.
Mads Thychosen – 22-year-old right-back from Nordsjælland. The youngster has been key to Nordsjælland’s attack by averaging 8.64 progressive passes/90 and 2.46 progressive runs/90.
Matthias Rasmussen has averaged 9.94 progressive passes and 3.01 progressive runs/90. He has also recorded a whopping 0.72 key passes/90 this season. Along with Thychosen, he has been key to Nordsjælland attacking success as the league’s highest scorers. Alexander Bah has averaged 9.17 progressive passes/90 and 2.37 progressive runs/90. He has made a decent 0.44 key passes/90.
The table containing the scores of players for this attribute is given below.
The updated overall aggregated score until this section is in the below image.
We can see the likes of Varela getting into the top half of the table due to his progressing capabilities.
Dribbling and offensive duels
Another important component in the attacking set of attributes for a full-back. Full-backs these days are required to beat their markers and carry the ball forward to deliver crosses. Offensive duels are also something that defines a full-backs’ ability to protect the ball under possession.
Let’s analyze some new players first.
Patrick Da Silva – 25-year-old left-back from Lyngby BK. He has the best record in the entire division about the dribbling and offensive duels. He has attempted 5.33 dribbles/90 and has won 50.72% of them. He also averages 9.33 offensive duels/90.
Jens Martin Gammelby – 29-year-old from Brondby. He has averaged 5.28 dribbles/90 winning 55.93% of them. He has also won 8.24 offensive duels/90.
Kevin Mensah – 29-year-old from Brondby. The right-back averages 4.58 dribbles/90 winning 60.67% of them. He has also won 8.29 offensive duels/90.
Michael Lumb – 32-year-old from Horsens. The left-back averages 4.13 dribbles/90 winning 52.63% of them. He has also won 6.74 offensive duels/90.
Mathias Haarup has averaged 4.74 dribbles/90 winning 54.55% of them. He has also won 7.33 offensive duels/90. Thychosen has averaged 4.04 dribbles/90 winning 55.43% of them. He has also won 7.64 offensive duels/90. His teammate Rasmussen has recorded 3.86 dribbles/90 winning a very good 64.41% of them. He has also won 6.48 offensive duels/90.
The scores of the players for this section is in the table below.
The updated table after including the dribbling abilities of the players is given below.
Full-backs in modern games have become an important component of a team by providing the width they need during the attack. They are required to overlap the inverted wingers, who move narrow so that they can put in crosses into the box. For example, the chief creative weapons of the new elect Premier League champions Liverpool are their full-backs, Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.
Casper Höjer Nielsen – 25-year-old left-back from Aarhus GF. He has averaged 4.5 crosses/90 with an accuracy of 39.53%. He has also averaged 0.73 crosses into the D-box, which is the highest among the full-backs.
Björn Kopplin – 31-year-old left-back from Randers FC. He has averaged 4.47 crosses/90 with an accuracy of 36.67%. He has also averaged 0.56 crosses into the D-box.
Svenn Crone – 25-year-old right-back from Silkeborg. He has averaged 4.62 crosses/90 with an accuracy of 32.73%. He has also averaged 0.25 crosses into the D-box. He has also bagged 3 assists.
Joel Andersson – 23-year-old right-back from Midtjylland. He has averaged 3.47 crosses/90 with excellent accuracy of 43.18%. He has also averaged 0.39 crosses into the D-box. He has been integral to the success of Midtjylland’s defence this season.
Alexander Munksgaard – 22-year-old from Aarhus GF. Though he has attempted just 2.82 crosses/90, he is very accurate in delivering them (47.95%).
Pierre Bengtsson is the best full-back with regard to the crossing criteria. He has delivered 4.58 crosses/90 with an accuracy of 49.49%. Around 0.65 crosses of them are into the penalty area. Bartolec is next on the list with an average crosses of 4.69 and a success rate of 42.42%.
Patrick da Silva has delivered 4.71 crosses/90 with an accuracy of 36.07%.
Let’s look into the scores of the players based on their crossing abilities.
The overall updated score with the inclusion of crossing metrics is given in the image below.
Smart passes and Key Passes
We need to find full-backs who can spread the ball around the field with the ability to find gaps in between opponent’s players. Smart and key passes will help us define who stands out in this category.
Ryan Laursen – 28-year-old from Odense Boldklub. Laursen has been a touch above the rest by recording 0.99 smart passes/90 and 0.86 key passes/90. He also has a good accuracy of 26.67%. We can see in the graph that he is an outlier from the rest of the players.
Jakob Ahlmann – 29-year-old from Aalborg BK. He has averaged 0.93 smart passes/90 and 0.49 key passes/90. He has an excellent accuracy of 47.06%.
Apart from them, Rasmussen has averaged 0.59 smart passes/90 and 0.72 key passes/90. He has an excellent accuracy of 44.44%. Copenhagen’s Bartolec has recorded 0.64 key passes as well as smart passes with an accuracy of 44.44%. Alexander Bah has recorded 0.44 key passes/90 and 0.72 smart passes/90. Pallesen has more key passes (0.61) than the smart passes (0.45) showing he is much more creative than usual. Joel Andersson has recorded 0.45 key passes/90 and 0.55 smart passes/90.
The scores for this section are given below.
The final updated scores after aggregating all the columns is given in the table below.
The shortlisted players are given in the table above. We can see that Rasmussen has taken the top spot . After analysis, his combined scores stands at 3.46 just above Alexander Bah at 3.40. Both of them are young and very promising full-backs as we can see their statistics.
From the chart, we can see that Bah is much better than Rasmussen defensively and Rasmussen give much more when the team attacks. Both of them are strong in their own right and are integral in their team’s play. Teams like Real Madrid and Tottenham who are in need for a new right-back can turn their heads towards Bah. Whereas, Rasmussen can be a great fit into Frank Lampard’s youthful and attacking philosophy, so Chelsea should keep tabs on him. Copenhagen’s Karlo Bartolec is not much far from these two, but he plays a second fiddle to their first-choice RB, Varela. But stats say that he deserves much more playing time for his age (25) and could well move to a league like Ligue-1.
Among the other U-23 full-backs, Midtjylland’s Joel Andersson, Nordsjaelland’s Thychosen and AGF’s Munksgaard have looked promising this season. Though they have not racked up stats like Bah and Rasmussen this season, they can be the best full-back in Denmark next season as they have also been integral to their team’s success.
The Superliga possesses some fine young full-backs and also some entering their prime years. In this analysis we have picked the best full-backs in the league, using data and stats, to be Alexander Bah and Mathias Rasmussen. Further detailed scouting of these players can prove to help in finding if they fit into the plans of major teams that we discussed.