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Enes Sipovic: What to expect from him at Chennaiyin FC

With the pre-season about to begin in the Indian Super League, many teams have made some outstanding signings for the upcoming campaign. Enes Sipović, who is one such outstanding transfer made by Chennaiyin FC to replace their former captain Goian, has so far been the only new signing for the Marina Machans.

In this tactical analysis in the form of a scout report, we will dive deeper and analyse the playing style of Sipović, his tactics and how he will fit into the team and in the end, we will also be comparing him with Goian to get a complete idea of what to expect from him.

Player Profile

Sipović is the first Bosnian International to play in the ISL. He’s 3cm taller than Liverpool‘s Joel Matip at 198cm which could also make him the tallest defender at ISL. He previously played for Umm Salal which is best known for being the first Qatari club to make it to the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League. He also went on to win the Romanian Liga I in the 2010–11 season with Oțelul Galați and has also played in the UEFA U-21 Championship. The below profile is visualised based on his previous season at Umm Salal.

Enes Sipovic: What to expect from him at Chennaiyin FC - tactical analysis tactics

Looking at his heatmap from the player profile, we can see that he has been recruited purely to fill in the shoes of Goian on the left side of the defence. Looking at this attacking contribution, we could easily conclude that Sipović is a very composed player and is confident with his dribbles. He also attempts quite a high number of through passes which gives us a hint about his attacking nature.

We could also easily see that he combines less with the attackers as he makes very few progressive runs, which is something we might analyse in the upcoming sessions. We can also see his forward pass ratio is high, which justifies his attacking-minded game. It’s also to be noted that he prefers to go long rather than short. The reason behind his drop in percent rank for pass accuracy could be because of his constant attempts for long balls and through balls which quite often don’t find their mark.

Entering his prime, there’s no doubt that the 198cm tall defender has dominated the aerial duels with such a high percent rank value, while his defensive duels too are very good. With his shots blocked per 90 being excellent and his possession-adjusted interceptions value below average, it will be interesting to see if it remains the same way in the ISL. His fouls per 90 seem to be on par with the league average but we will later analyse why this could be a problem for Chennaiyin.

Sipovic’s standout qualities

Sipović is not only a defender but also a true leader on the pitch. He’s aggressive, commanding and competitive. His experience has been one of his greatest assets and helps him to make good decisions. One of the greatest qualities of his is that he never takes his eyes off the ball and also balances the defensive line so well.

Enes Sipovic: What to expect from him at Chennaiyin FC - tactical analysis tactics

From the above picture we can see that as the attackers’ approach, the three-man defence try to delay them to slow down the attack. While the left and right centre-backs are more focused on the fall-back, we can see that Sipović too intends to drop back, but never takes his eyes off the ball. Not only does he not lose sight of the ball, but also balances the defensive line which is crucial during counter-attacks.

He’s very confident of his decisions and his calm and composed nature is a huge factor that Chennaiyin should take advantage of. We often see that players who are very tall aren’t as fast, which in fact, is true in the case of Sipović. It’s hard to conclude whether he is one of the fastest on the pitch, but he’s definitely one of the most intelligent players out there. His ability to read the game has helped him find himself in perfect positions and has also influenced his decision making.

Enes Sipovic: What to expect from him at Chennaiyin FC - tactical analysis tactics

In the above picture, we can see the level of anticipation by Sipović who reads the game well and accelerates to close down the attacker. Understanding the fact that he can be beaten through pace and impossible through defensive duels, Sipović anticipates passes and closes the opponent down. As he is a physically imposing player with a strong physique, attackers find it very hard to beat him in duels.

Speaking of his ability to read the game and how he balances the defensive lines and closes down the gaps, we should also mention how this quality of his is very important inside the penalty area.

Enes Sipovic: What to expect from him at Chennaiyin FC - tactical analysis tactics

Sipović becomes extremely competitive inside the penalty box and becomes a hard defender to beat. From the above picture, we can see him running down to close the gap and prevent the opponent from taking advantage of the area while he also makes sure to keep an eye on his man. It’s to be noted that he has also made some clearances from the goal line, highlighting his fighting spirit. 

It’ll be very interesting to see how he combines with Jerry on the left and with Eli Sabiá. Next, we will look at his aerial duel stats.

Enes Sipovic: What to expect from him at Chennaiyin FC - tactical analysis tactics

The above scatter plots tell us how he has performed in the air and it’s no surprise to us that he has been one of the best in aerial duels. He, on average, involves himself in 4.93 aerial duels per 90 and wins as much as 62.71% of them. As said earlier, he is one of the most reliable defenders inside the box and the chances of him losing an aerial duel are very slim.

He can also be used as a key man in attacking set-pieces but tracking back would be something difficult for him to do and will be interesting to see how Csaba László uses him in those scenarios. 

Having analysed how he performs in the defensive aspect of the game, we should also look at the support he offers to his teammates. We did discuss earlier how he doesn’t make those progressive runs, but he doesn’t shy away from offering support.

Enes Sipovic: What to expect from him at Chennaiyin FC - tactical analysis tactics

We can see Sipović trying to move to an open area to gain control over the pitch and ask for the ball. We should also take into account that Chennaiyin does like to have possession and build the game from the middle. With two defensive midfielders in front of the defence, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Sipović move up and combine with them in the transition. As a whole, Sipović is a very reliable defender who simply can’t be beaten in the air while his attacking qualities are yet to be tested.

Sipović vs Goian 

Moving further in our analysis, we will be comparing the performance of Sipović and Goian. Since comparing the per 90 stats wouldn’t be reliable since they both play in a different league, we will convert their per 90 stats into percent rank values and look at how they have performed in their respective leagues in a particular metric and then compare them.

To begin with, we will look at the attacking metrics of Sipović and how they differed from Goian.

Enes Sipovic: What to expect from him at Chennaiyin FC - tactical analysis tactics

Unsurprisingly, we can see Goian is better than Sipović in almost every metric except for the successful dribbles percentage. This is something Chennaiyin should actually start to look at. Being 198cm tall, he really needs to be their key player in not only defending but also in attacking set-pieces. We can really expect a lot more through passes and key passes in Chennaiyin because of the runs that their attackers offer. But as modern-day football demands everything from a player, Chennaiyin should look to extract the attacking qualities of Sipović which could be very challenging. 

Next, we will compare Sipović’s passing and progression ability with Goian’s.

Enes Sipovic: What to expect from him at Chennaiyin FC - tactical analysis tactics

Looking at the radars, we could say they both are similar types of ball progressors, except the fact that Goian makes a higher number of progressive runs and progressive passes. But Sipović, who prefers to hold onto his position, doesn’t really prefer to make these runs but also doesn’t shy away if the situation demands it. But as a whole, we could conclude that they both are different players with similar qualities and hence Sipović could perfectly fill in the void that Goian has left the team with. 

The final comparison of Sipović and Goian will be with the defensive metrics, which is his primary department and the area where he has to excel the most in order to gain the trust of the team and the fans.

Enes Sipovic: What to expect from him at Chennaiyin FC - tactical analysis tactics

Looking at the radar, we can see Sipović and Goian have performed in a similar way when it comes to shots blocked per 90 and aerial duels per 90, but Goian has certainly performed better in possession-adjusted interceptions and defensive duels per 90. Sipović, on the other hand, excels in both defensive and aerial duels which is a positive note, while he commits fewer fouls when compared to Goian. 

We should also take into consideration that the level of competition is different in the ISL and Qatar Stars League which means Sipović could perform better than the stats show.

Areas of concern

Having analysed his strengths and different qualities, we will also look at his weaknesses. He sometimes misjudges the timing when closing down the opposition players and ends up getting beaten.

Enes Sipovic: What to expect from him at Chennaiyin FC - tactical analysis tactics

He tries to accelerate and quickly closes down the player before he receives the ball, but if the player gains control even before he could pressurise, just like in the above picture, it’s really difficult for him to quickly fall back. The 198cm tall defender covers more distance in fewer steps, but can be beaten easily with quick passes and pace and would need the help of others for balance and cover if something similar happens again.

As we discussed previously, Sipović is a physically imposing player and tends to use his hands to safeguard himself in aerial duels. Although he’s making fewer fouls when compared to Goian in the radar, he should be careful not to be very aggressive as we know that the quality of decision making by referees in the ISL needs improvement and they could end up booking him quite often.

Conclusion

It will be interesting to see how Sipović plays and performs for Chennaiyin. He is a hard-working player and shows very good character both off and on the pitch and is truly a leader to be inspired from. Irrespective of how he performs, it’s a sure fact that the Indian youngsters will have loads of things to learn from the tall centre-back. 

Will he hold a special place in the heart of fans just like Goian did? Well, that’s something we will have to wait and see in Goa, but something I’m sure of is that Sipović will definitely be a great influence for the team.