FK Bodø/Glimt may have recently had their 100% winning start to the season ended but they remain one of Europe’s most exciting teams. Their high-energy attacking football continues to attract many admirers and one player is the real heartbeat of the side. In this scout report, we shall explore how Patrick Berg acts as the glue of the team, and provide a tactical analysis on what makes him one of Norway’s hottest prospects.
Role in the team
Bodø/Glimt have had a settled side and formation since the start of the 2019 Eliteserien season. They were a surprise package that campaign, finishing as runner-up’s, and have made a blistering start in their attempt to go one place better this year. The club lost a couple of players in the off-season but replaced them adequately with the new players fitting in seamlessly with the key to their success being the tactics employed by manager Kjetil Knutsen. The below image shows how Bodø/Glimt line up with a 4-3-3 which essentially becomes a 2-3-2-3 in the attacking phase.
The target of this scout report, Patrick Berg, acts as the defensive midfielder in this system and the rest of this analysis shall focus on his importance to these tactics. Berg operates as the pivot in the side, dropping in between the centre-backs to receive the ball during patient build-up. Though, as attacks progress, Berg moves up-field and makes himself available as a continuous outlet for the recycling of possession. The below heat map shows how he dominates the entire middle third of the pitch.
Opposition teams have yet to find a sure-fire way to contain Bodø/Glimt and their tactics. Many choose to operate a low-block and restrict space for the attacking players. When faced with this defence, Berg becomes the key man. He will continuously pass and receive the ball to and from the four defenders and his two midfield partners, aiming to move the play from side-to-side until space opens up for a progressive pass. His importance is reflected simply in the following image.
As shown, Berg leads the charts in his position for the number of passes per game and has only four players attempt more progressive passes on average. These statistics show how often his team look for him in possession but also that his play is not passive, he is always looking to play on the front foot.
If teams decide to press slightly higher up the pitch Berg’s positioning and composure is crucial to progressing play. The following image shows Berg about to receive a pass whilst under moderate pressure. Notice how his positioning allows him to create passing triangles with the full-backs, centre-backs and midfield partners (out of shot). Berg is incredibly cool under pressure and actually chooses to pass back to the goalkeeper on this occasion. A couple of seconds later, Berg is again in a position to receive the ball. His positioning again allows him to create the same passing triangles but due to his recycling of possession, he has found himself also in a position to turn and play a progressive pass this time.
Upon progressing the play into the final third, Berg again positions himself as a pivot. Here his job is much the same as in his own half, moving the ball at a quick tempo until creating an opportunity for the team to directly attack the goal. The below image shows his typical positioning in this phase.
Berg will look to operate almost exclusively within the highlighted area, shuffling across the pitch in order to exploit any weaknesses in the opposition shape. He will rarely move further forward than this, instead remaining aware of a potential counter-attack from the four players who make up the first line of defence. He’ll tend to play a mixture of short passes and switches out to the flanks; thus, his assist and key pass numbers are low. A greater reflection of his importance can be seen in the below statistics.
Here we see how Berg contributes heavily in each of Bodø/Glimt’s attacks, the xG chain and xG buildup metrics that measure a player’s contribution to each attack without that player having had the final shot or shot assist.
When the opposition attempts a high press in order to disrupt the buildup of Bodø/Glimt, Berg’s long-range passing ability becomes crucial. Picking the ball up in his usual pivot position, Berg has tremendous vision and is able to beat the press with one pass over the top. The accuracy of these passes is demonstrated below.
The accuracy of Berg’s longer passes is exceptional, and this constantly allows for his attacking teammates to operate in space. Although not easy to display in an image, in the next part of this scout report we shall attempt to show Berg’s long-passing ability.
Here the first line of the press has already been beaten. Berg plays an inch-perfect pass beyond the next line of defence, allowing his winger a 1v1 with the full-back.
The following image attempts to display one of the passes of the 2020 Eliteserien season so far.
Berg shapes as if to play the ball down the channel for his winger to run onto but delivers a superb pass with the outside of his right foot inside the full-back, his winger arcing his run in the path of the blue line.
Defensive positioning in transition
In the next part of this tactical analysis, we shall look at how Berg fares in the defensive side of the game. Due to their tactics, Bodø/Glimt are usually defending high up the pitch. As explained during the analysis of his build-up play, Berg often positions himself no higher than the edge of the middle third during attacks, anticipating a potential counter-attack. The below image shows a typical position Berg will occupy.
As can be seen, Berg sits deeper than his mid-field partners with the 3 forwards ahead of them. He will shuffle across the pitch, initially aiming to intercept the forward pass.
Berg’s positioning is perfect and he easily cuts out the pass. Berg’s job isn’t finished there, however. He quickly plays the ball forward, setting up a 6v5 for his team. This numerical superiority highlights how important Berg’s role is in the defensive transition phase. If Berg fails to stop the forward pass, the opposition (Molde in this case) will create their own numerical superiority in attack.
The below image is taken from a few seconds later, Bodø/Glimt’s counter-attack having broken down on the edge of the area with Molde managing to get plenty of players back in defence.
Berg is again sat on the edge of the middle third. This time he is unable to cut out the simple pass that starts the Molde counter-attack but his positioning and body shape allows him to quickly put pressure on the player receiving the pass.
Berg is able to win this duel and again stop Molde progressing into the opposite half of the field. We shall take a closer look at Berg’s duel success rate in the next part of this scout report but the key factor to winning this particular duel is his intelligence in consistently putting himself in the right position.
Due to Bodø/Glimt’s tactics, Berg does the majority of his defending higher up the pitch, his recovery and counter-pressing recovery numbers ranking in the top 25 and 35 respectively. When asked to defend in his own third, Berg’s numbers are equally as compelling. His defensive duel success rate stands at a 68.59%, a rate well above the average for players in his position.
There are clearly few weaknesses to Berg’s game, or at least none that Eliteserien opposition have been able to find thus far. Berg is likely to find himself moving to one of Europe’s top leagues within the next couple of years and will be tested further by the higher-quality opposition but for now, the only slight weakness that can be levelled at Berg is his aerial duel success.
At only 175cm tall this is understandable, but it is something that Berg must find a way of improving. When compared to somebody like Real Madrid‘s Casemiro, a player who operates in a similar role, Berg’s relative lack of physicality is clear.
As Bodø/Glimt continue to fly at the head of the Eliteserien, their attacking players continue to dominate the goals and assists chart. Though there’s one man who makes the team tick, this tactical analysis showing how heavily Patrick Berg contributes in both attack and defence. It is arguably fair to say that Bodø/Glimt’s tactics simply wouldn’t succeed without Berg.
Berg is unlikely to be playing in Norway beyond 2021, yet to play for his country he’ll be aiming to showcase his skills at a higher level. Serie A looks a good fit for his talent, especially at a team such as AC Milan or Inter, though wherever he ends up he has the talent to succeed at the top level, this scout report having demonstrated all of his qualities.