Eliteserien 2020: Valerenga vs Bodo/Glimt – tactical preview
In the 13th round of the Norwegian First League, the match between Valerenga and Bodo/Glimt promises an exciting game with hopefully plenty of goals and actions in the final thirds. Both teams are currently overperforming and can look into the future with confidence. Glimt are undoubtedly the surprise of the year, leading the pack with 34 points won from the possible 36. The home side sits at a comfortable 4th place with 22 points and will look to close the gap to the leaders.
In this tactical analysis, we will focus on the expected lineups and employed tactics from both sides and by the end of the article, we aim to predict whether Valerenga have what it takes to hand Glimt’s first defeat in the season.
Both managers prefer a steady 4-3-3 with a constant starting eleven but it is likely that both teams will have absences to solve in defence. Valerenga will be without their starting left-back, Felix Horn Myhre, who collected his fourth yellow card against Brann. To make things worse, the team’s second-choice left-back, Sam Adekugbe picked up an injury and probably won’t be ready against Glimt.
The visitors had a tough time against Stromsgodset last time out as Brede Moe (right centre-back) and Fredrik Bjorkan (left-back) had to be subbed off in the first half. Whether they can be ready against Valerenga is still in question but their replacements, Marius Hoibraaten and Aleksander Foosnaes can commit to their eventual first-team duties.
Valerenga: A simple way against pressing
The build-up starts with the goalkeeper, the 19-year-old Kristoffer Klaesson. His duty is to be the traditional, ‘route one’ keeper without overcomplicating anything on the ball. He directs his kicks towards the target man, Benjamin Stokke or Matthias Vilhjalmsson, while the teammates form a compact pack behind, ready for the ‘rebounds’.
In case of a centre-back possession, the backline is expanded in the full width of the pitch. This way they can avoid losses in dangerous positions as the opposition has to cover greater areas in the final third. With the two centre-backs, Ivan Nasberg and Jonatan Nation staying wide, they provide extra space for Fredrik Jensen who drops deep to get the ball. He is the deep-lying playmaker for Valerenga whose primary duty is to connect the defence with the midfield.
Dag Eliev Fagermo instructs his team to be direct and to play balls behind the opposition backline. This requires great awareness to invite the opponent to their own half and draw up player runs which create space in the midfield. With Jensen coming for the ball, he usually drags a midfielder out of place. The box-to-box midfielders occupy more advanced positions, easing the pressing passively. This way, Valerenga have a reduced opportunity to play out of the back. When the full-backs receive the ball, they have two options. Either they launch a long ball towards the striker or they wait for the wingers to come short.
In Fagermo’s traditional 4-3-3 system, wingers have the biggest freedom. Aron Donnum created headlines with reported interest from Besiktas, while Osame Sahraoui tends to drift so inwards that the left side becomes completely deserted in the attack. When they drop deep for the ball by the touchline, they ensure that the pressing full-backs couldn’t switch their attentions to the central midfield quickly enough. Eventually, this leads to one of the central midfielders being unmarked, and the team can quickly transition into full attacking mode.
Bodo/Glimt: The art of playing through
The black and yellow team played their best sequences against aggressively pressing oppositions. Since then, they met more precarious approaches and had a harder time to find a way towards the goal. In order to ensure a numerical advantage during the build-up, all three midfielders, Patrick Berg, Ulrik Saltnes and Sondre Fet move back into their own half. It is easy to understand that a simple man-marking would lead to catastrophic results against Glimt since a simple long pass would be enough to play through the midfield.
They aim to avoid using the full-backs excessively in the build-up unless they have enough space to progress through the midfield. They provide wide passing options and expand the opposition but mostly function as secondary options. The centre-backs burst into the huge gaps and can progress the ball without a sweat. These tactics give the players well-rounded tactical freedom within which they can play through the defence with different short combinations.
The front three, Jens Petter Hauge, Philip Zinckernagel and Kasper Junker prefer to occupy their respective positions and attack from there. The supreme ability of the wingers has already decided close games so every club that faces Glimt needs to figure out a way to contain these two within their own schemes.
What can we see from Valerenga on Saturday?
We would expect that a neutral football lover would enjoy this game in the middle of the Champions League fever. Since both teams prioritize attack over defending and playing direct football, the clash between them should bring fireworks in front of the goals. Adding the potential injuries and suspensions into the equation, we can guarantee an entertaining 90 minutes from Norway.
Valerenga would likely retreat or press with limited players but either way their defensive problems against big teams (Molde or Odd) starts with their front line. Often quite narrow and central midfielders pushed too high, they allow the opposition to build up on the wings. Especially in the upcoming game, they will focus on overloading the middle part of the pitch and limiting the midfielders from receiving the ball.
Valerenga’s main goal on this afternoon should be breaking up the rhythm of attacks. They can’t allow the dynamic midfield of Glimt running over them, therefore we would expect nagging fouls and a lot of duels. Keeping the ball away from the final third would also be crucial with the extra task of isolating Hauge and Zinckernagel on the wings. In their current form of defence, it is hard to imagine they would manage to do so.
In attack, their long-ball tactics might suit against Glimt. The away team had their fair share of problems with crosses from the flanks and defending against wingers. Valerenga’s Borchgrevnik and his overlapping runs on Donnum’s side could help expose this but only if Stokke starts in the No.9 position. To even out the team’s unbalanced attack, we would expect to see Bard Finne on the left side as a wide striker as Glimt were also exposed to many deep runs behind the defensive line between the right-back and the right centre-back. Finne could also initiate more delayed runs towards low crosses than Sahraoui.
What can we see from Bodo/Glimt on Saturday?
Glimt should not have a problem with playing out from the back with Hauge and Zinckernagel moving freely on the flanks. Valerenga’s pressing lacks a clear trigger and they had a hard time defending against ball-carrying and ball-playing centre-backs. If neither left-backs can start, Herolind Shala is expected to play with Zinckernagel all over him. We would imagine that Glimt manager, Kjetil Knudsen would favour Valerenga’s left side for attacking since Vilhjalmsson’s defensive abilities could be exposed (originally a striker).
Another key element would be getting the most out of the players’ speed against the slower centre-backs. Whether with inviting the pressing or with positional rotation, the pace of the front six against the static defence could pay dividends in this game.
In defence, Glimt will have two main tasks to prevent deadly counter-attacks from Valerenga. Since their pressing is not man but rather space-oriented, it will be interesting to see how they press the full-backs of Valerenga. If they can isolate them and prevent them from going forward, they will be able to overload the centre of the field and intercept balls at a high rate. The other problem to be solved will be doubling up on Donnum. As the creative player of the side, he can create chances easily if he has the space to advance on his left foot. Saltnes can help either Bjorkan or Foosnaes with a wider positioning, closing the dribbler down.
We are looking forward to this one. With the end of Serie A and Premier League, it is time to turn heads towards smaller leagues. The excitement is guaranteed and the goals will come this Saturday afternoon. In this analysis, we became the unbiased video scout for both teams, looking for patterns in their build-up and pressing that could bring an advantage to either side.
Valerenga could rely on their long balls and individual skills on the flanks to hand the first defeat to Bodo/Glimt. On the other hand, the away side will enjoy the possession for most of the match and will look to play out from the back and run through the midfield as quickly as they can. Two teams with the same formation but different tactics can bring great entertainment to the fans of the beautiful game.