Bodo/Glimt has had a brilliant start to the 2020 Eliteserien season being unbeaten in the 15 matches they have played this season that also saw a 10 match winning streak from their opening game. They are turning out to be runaway league winners thanks to some fine tactics deployed by Kjetil Knutsen and some brilliant performances from their players.
One such player, who has caught the eye of everyone in the Scandinavian region is Philip Zinckernagel. The right-winger has been scoring and assisting goals for fun that has immensely contributed to the attacking department of Bodo/Glimt.
Zinckernagel is a right-footed player capable of playing across the front line. Usually deployed as a left-winger in the previous years, Zinckernagel has been shifted to the right flank since the start of the 2019 season. He has been performing at the top level ever since putting in some exhilarating displays for Bodo/Glimt. He finished the 2019-20 season in the league with 13 goals and 15 assists in 33 games. The following image provides his positioning in the matches he has played this season.
We can see his map in the image above, we can see red marks in the right-wing regions. There are some yellow spots in the centre, especially in zone-14. This shows that he tries to move inside and double up as a playmaker while creating chances for his team. Due to this he also can be deployed as RCMF in a three-man midfield as he can effectively make use of the half-space in the right-wing.
Zinckernagel has been involved in 9 goals and 11 assists in 15 matches (1290 minutes) this season. He ranks fourth in the league for most goals and first in the league for the assists. He averages 0.6 xG per 90 along with 0.6 xA per 90. These stats definitely show that he is a great goal threat and has been consistently involving himself in his team’s attacking displays while attempting an average of 4.1 shots per game (most in the league). His attacking instincts seem to be similar to that of Eden Hazard during his time at Chelsea. While his other attributes also resemble that of the Belgian about which we’ll be looking into detail.
In the image above we can see him shooting with a defender coming out to block his shot. But he makes sure that he adds power to his shot and unleashes it with great intent. He is also very good with his left-foot which is supposed to be his weaker foot. He has scored a multitude of goals with his weaker foot and has a good amount of power in them too. We can see one of his shots in the image below. Despite a lot of players trying to block his angle to the goal, he squeezes the ball past them and then past the keeper to score.
His shot map suggests that he takes shots from different areas surrounding the penalty box and from different angles. This is due to the fact Bodo/Glimt’s system involves a fluid front-three as they keep interchanging positions to confuse the opposition.
He is also the designated penalty taker for his team when he is on the pitch and has scored three penalties successfully this season from three attempts. As we mentioned before, Zinckernagel’s contribution to goals does not just stop there. He leads the league in the assists department and has been contributing a lot there. In the image below, we can see Bodo’s striker calling for a cross into the box. Zinckernagel successfully spots him and delivers a wonderful ball into the box which his teammate scores.
Even with ground assists, he is very good as he has good vision and finds his teammates in great positions to score goals. In one such counter-attacking example, we can see him running with the ball and then he suddenly notices his striker making a run into space and threads him with a good through ball.
We have said he takes central positions during attacks as he tends to sometimes drift towards the zone-14. This is because of his CAM-like abilities with which he makes good use of and assists his teammates. He has averaged 3.42 per game shot assists so far this season which is by far the most in the league.
His shot assists map is given below. The deliveries are widely varied as we can see a range of through passes, crosses and also from corners and set-pieces from different places outside the box and inside the box too.
Philip Zinckernagel averages 9.52 dribbles (third most in the league) per game-winning 52.82% of them. Due to his nimble foot and low centre of gravity, he has the ability to go past his opponents with good acceleration too.
The best thing about his dribbling is his body and his balance. When he has the ball he puts full balance to the side of his body and to the direction he intends to go but his leg shows the other direction that tricks the opponent to tackle him from there but he glides past him the other way.
In the above example, he looks like making a move towards the centre of the pitch and has his leg positioned in that way. But the weight of his body is transferred to his right side and this allows him to make a quick change and overlap after beating the defender.
The above image consists of his dribbles attempted in the final third. We can see that most of them have come from the right-wing, where he generally starts, but also some of them are spread across the pitch even extending to the other flank. Seven of his dribbles so far have directly led to a goal and overall his dribbles have generated an xG of 9.63 (highest in the league).
Playmaking and Key Passing
Philip Zinckernagel is arguably the best creator in the Eliteserien this season. His passes revolve around his constant positioning in dangerous areas and ability to find pockets of space for himself and for his teammates. He averages 3.8 key passes per game, which is one of the highest in the league. Along with 11 assists, he also has two pre-assist and two third assist.
His range of passing is very good and it is one of the rare things you see in a forward. In the image above we can see that he has received the ball just outside his team’s penalty box and also spots one of his teammates making a run. He sprays a pinch-perfect long ball to him. He equally does it well with his left foot too like the one in the image below.
His intelligence on the ball is also extremely good. In the image above, he receives the ball in the right-wing half-space. His options there to put a cross into the box to a striker making a run in between the defender. But that could be easily dealt with the nearest centre-back so he takes the ball and again scans to look now he sees that all the four defenders have moved along the same line and his other teammate is making a run in between the two lines. He immediately cuts it back to his teammate and he goes on to score a goal.
His ability to adjust the weight of his passes are very good and one of the main reasons why he creates so many good chances. Even under pressure, he doesn’t seem to lose that ability to thread a proper pass like one in the example above. Two defenders pressing him and one of them is physically pressurising him yet he puts in a good through ball. The bend on his crosses is very good and well-timed.
Despite being a forward, Zinckernagel’s range of pass and ability allows him to drop deep and help his team to progress the ball. His xGBuildup stands at 0.35 per game and is one of the highest figures for a forward in the league.
Bodo/Glimt’s all-out attacking strategy involves a brilliant counter-attacking setup built on their front-three and the two central midfielders. Zinckernagel being the right-winger in this setup plays an important role in such situations.
His actions performed in counter-attacks is given in the image above. We can see a lot of events that includes carrying the ball, passing, dribbling and also attempting shots. This shows that he is the fulcrum of Bodo/Glimt’s counter-attacking system. Despite losing his dribbles a few times in the penalty box, he still manages to consistently create danger with his pace and acceleration. His xGChain is also at 0.18, which is a very good value.
Generally, during counter-attacks, most of the forwards try to move centrally to occupy dangerous positions. But, Zinckernagel tries to move out wide for two main reasons one is to occupy those spaces vacated by the full-back when they have gone forward. And also while moving out wide, he drags a defender along with him and this vacates space in the central position for the striker and the central midfielder joining in the counter-attack. Another reason is that it isolates those players with him 1v1 and he almost easily beats them and threads in passes.
Off the ball defending
Zinckernagel is also hardworking off the ball and generally is one of the first players to press the opponent in Bodo/Glimt’s high-intensity pressing system. In the following example, we can see him pressing the opponent’s ball carrier with intensity and winning the ball to start a counter-attack. It ends with him scoring a goal.
He has averaged 3.22 recoveries per game this season and with 1.81 of them being in counter-pressing situations while most of them have come in the final third and the middle third with 34 and 39 recoveries respectively.
He also tracks back and offers lending support to his defenders to defend in his team’s own third. In the image below we can see him helping his team during set-pieces. In general cases, players as talented as him would be expected to be deployed higher up the pitch in such situations for quick counter-attacks but Zinckernagel has no problem in helping his team during these phases.
The only issue with him here is that he isn’t tailor-made to do those defensive work and also twice this season he has conceded goals due to this. Despite his intentions to do those defensive duties, being a forward he does not have a defender’s instincts. Also standing at just 175 cm, he wins very few aerial duels so moving to teams that rely on this aspect will be difficult.
Being at 25 years old, Zinckernagel might be just entering his peak and would be a great addition to any top team out there looking for a hybrid forward. Adjusting his stats, we found him to be similar to the players like Neymar, Serge Gnarby, etc. Let’s compare the statistics of him with that of Neymar and Gnabry.
Not saying that he is better or on an equal level to those players but definitely he is someone to look out for having been one of the best players in Scandinavian regions today. Teams like Manchester United who are looking to sign a world-class right-winger, who can also double up as a playmaker like Jadon Sancho, could invest in him at a very cheap rate of one million Euros according to Transfermarkt. Even if he doesn’t make a big-money move to a big club, a potential UEFA Champions League club could seriously consider him.
Philip Zinckernagel has had a stellar start to this season’s campaign and if he keeps delivering some fine performances on a consistent basis, he could definitely attract a lot of clubs in the big five leagues.