Austria’s Second Division 2019/20: Scouting young talents – data analysis
Within the last couple of years, the Austrian Bundesliga became a place where young talents gained experience and developed their skills to then join clubs in the bigger European leagues, especially in the Bundesliga. But what many people do not know is that many players who leave Austria to continue their career at a higher level, often made their first appearances on the senior level in Austria’s second division.
Especially FC Liefering (RB Salzburg’s second team), Austria Vienna II and Juniors OÖ (LASK Linz’s second team) have often quite interesting players in their squad as they implement youth players in their teams.
In this data analysis, we’ll try to identify the greatest talents (U22) in each position in Austria’s second division and use data to show what makes them so special. We will start with the defenders, to then look at the central midfielders, wingers and as the final point, we use data to point out who the most promising central forwards of these league are. Since stats don’t tell that much about a goalkeeper, I decided to not include this position in my research. Important note: all stats in this data analysis are for the games in Austria’s second division and are also the average values per 90 minutes.
We will follow the same plan for each position as we firstly compare the values (which are important for the specific position) of the most promising U22 players and visualise them in a graph. After that, we will pick out two or three talented men who stood out in the graph and have a more detailed look at their stats.
For the defenders, our metrics which we use to identify the best players are successful defensive actions per 90 minutes and the success rate for defensive duels in percentage. In the graph below, we can see the best defenders of Austria’s second division according to these stats who are 21 years old or younger.
The 21 years-old Johannes Handl of Austria Vienna II is clearly the player who stands out in this graph with outstanding metrics as he wins 80% of his defensive duels and has 13.24 successful defensive actions per 90 minutes.
Clearly underneath him but still better than the remaining men are David Affengruber and David Bumberger. These two almost have identical stats as Affengruber wins 72.81% of his defensive duels and has 11.26 successful defensive actions per match while Bumberger has a success rate for def. duels of 72.41% and makes 11.25 successful defensive actions per 90 minutes. So, both men have similar values and also played a similar number of minutes in this season as Affengruer has 1678 while Bumberger played 1802 minutes for Juniors OÖ. Now, we’ll take a closer look at the stats of these three young men.
Johannes Handl, centre-back, 21 years old, Austria Vienna II
The 21-year-old centre-back already stood out in the graph above as he is the one with the highest success rate in defensive duels and the most successful defensive actions per 90 minutes. However, his other values are also really impressive as he wins 71.8% of his aerial duels, makes 10.98 interceptions per game and seems to be important for his team’s tactics during the build-up as he plays 61.74 passes per game. Only the other central defender Leon Maros played more passes per 90 minutes but played clearly fewer minutes compared to Handl.
Considering these impresive stats, it’s no surprise that he played four times for the first team of Austria Vienna in the Austrian Bundesliga this season.
David Affengruber, centre-back, 19 years old, Liefering
The 19-year-old central defender is the youngest player of the three but already has great metrics. He wins 57.7% of his duels in the air and makes 8.26 interceptions per match. Also, with 43.71 passes per game, he is among the three players with the most passes at Liefering.
The fact that he plays 21.83 forward passes per game what is almost half of all of his passes, shows us that he is a player who has the RB philosophy in him. It will be just a matter of time until we see him in the squad of RB Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga or even in the UEFA Champions League.
David Bumberger, centre-back, 21 years old, Juniors OÖ
Even though the central defender of Juniors OÖ has slightly lower figures compared to Affengruber in successful defensive actions and the success rate in defensive duels, he makes more interceptions (8.73) and plays more passes (47.58) compared to the 19-year-old Liefering player. In every single value except the passes and forward passes, Bumberger and Affengruber have no bigger difference between them than 0.6 which shows us that both have great potential and already show solid performances. The biggest difference is that Affengruber is two years younger and that means that we have to see where he’ll be once he reaches 21 years of age.
Even though in the modern game defenders get more importance during the build-up and full-backs often support their teammates during the attacking phase, their main task is still the defending and that makes it not that hard to decide which metrics we use to filter them. Now, when we come to the central midfielders, this gets a bit more complicated as in this position you should be more of an allrounder. Defensive midfielders should be able to progress the ball via passes or dribbles while a number 10 should support the defence and is an important part of every kind of pressing.
Due to that, we use three metrics to find the most talented central midfielders in Austria’s second division. Firstly, we add to the progressive passes the progressive runs of a player per 90 minutes and call them “progressive actions” to have these two values in one. The third metric will be again the success rate in the defensive duels as this is also important for a central midfielder. We can see the result in the graph below.
The one player who stands out in this graph is clearly the 19-year-old Nicolas Seiwald of Liefering with a success rate of 71.25% in the defensive duels and additionally, he makes on average 9.64 progressive actions per 90 minutes.
Nemanja Celic has also solid values but didn’t play enough games in central midfield to really count as a regular in that role. He switched between central defender and defensive midfielder several times during the season. Meanwhile, Anes Omerovic has just slightly worse stats compared to Celic, but is a regular starter in Dronbirn’s central midfield. He also made some appearances in central defence but also played nine times in the defensive midfield this season.
Nicolas Seiwald, central midfielder, 18 years old, Liefering
Seiwald is clearly one of the great talents who currently play in the second division of Austria. He is a classic allrounder in central midfield as he is, with 40.98 passes per game, a player who is important for his team’s tactics during the build-up phase but also his success rate in the defensive duel with 71,52 is outstanding for an 18-year-old.
He dribbles on average just 2.78 times per 90 minutes with a success rate of 57.4% which shows us that he’s not a player who tries something risky in the centre. 10.11 recoveries per game and 9.64 progressive actions show us again that he is extremely solid in offence and defence.
Anes Omerovic, defensive midfielder, 21 years old, Dornbirn
When we look at the stats of the 21-year-old defensive midfielder, you wouldn’t expect that Austria Vienna terminated his contract in 2018. In January 2019, Dornbirn signed him and since then he is an important part of the team as he plays either as a centre-back or a defensive midfielder.
The 21-year-old has solid numbers offensively and defensively as he plays 10,06 passes to the final third per game and makes 11.65 recoveries per 90 minutes (both values higher than Seiwald’s). Additionally, 13.07 progressive actions per game are pretty incredible. He has a success rate of 45.8% for dribbles but he is aware of that and due to that attempts just 1.27 dribbles per game.
Quite often wingers are the ones who show the actions like dribbles, step-overs or cut-ins and shots (made famous by former Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben) which are remembered as the highlights of a match besides the actual goals. Furthermore, you expect from your wingers to provide the necessary goal threat and support the lone or the two strikers up front by either creating or taking chances.
In light of these points, we again take three metrics to find the most interesting U22 players in this position. The first one will be the success rate of dribbles in percentage to see how strong the young players are on the ball. The other two metrics are the expected assists and the expected goals which will be combined into one value as we can see in the graph below.
Marco Grüll is the player with the best value for xA + xG with 0.59 and also played every single minute for Ried this season. Since Sunday Faleye didn’t play that often for Wacker Innsbruck, it’s too early to analyse his stats in detail and because of that, the second player at which we take a more detailed look is Andrés Andrade of Juniors OÖ. We’ll also analyse the stats of Nicolas Meister who is currently on loan at St. Pölten in the Austrian Bundesliga, but due to the coronavirus, it’s questionable if he’ll play for them once again this season.
Marco Grüll, 21 years old, Ried
The 21-year-old winger of Ried stood out in the graph above due to his great values for xA and xG. But also the numbers for his actual assists and goals are quite good as he scores on average 0,35 goals per game and provides 0,1 assists. The success rate for dribbles of 49.71% is average while the number for 9.09 attempted dribbles per 90 minutes is quite high. He delivers 2,53 crosses per match which shows that he’s not just a player who goes for the goal but also wants to find his teammates in the box.
Andrés Andrade, 21 years old, Juniors OÖ
Meanwhile, Andrade is clearly a less direct player compared to the other two as he has the lowest value for started dribbles (5,66) and also for goals (0,21). However, his success rate for dribbles is better than Grüll’s and Meister’s with 53.16% and he delivers the most crosses of all three men with 3.51. Considering these numbers, it is probably just a matter of time until we get to see him in the jersey of LASK Linz.
Nicolas Meister, 20 years old, Juniors OÖ (on loan at St. Pölten)
Meister is one of the greatest Austrian talents in this position as he already has an incredible goal threat at the age of 20. He scored 0.44 goals per 90 minutes this season when he played for Juniors OÖ in Austria’s second division. Also, he provided 0.44 assists per match, but on the other side, he starts 10.54 dribbles per game of which just 43.16% are successful and he delivers only 0.55 crosses per match. These values tell us that he misses the right moment to pass the ball and keeps it tool long at his feet.
In the last section of this data analysis, we look at the central forwards of Austria’s second division. Logically, we will use metrics which show us how effective and dangerous the young players are in front of goal. For this, we look at the goal conversion in percentage and additionally the non-penalty goals per 90 minutes. With these two statistics, we can easily find the strikers who are the most effective in front of goal and we can see it in the graph below.
For people who watch Austria’s second division regularly, the two top players in this graph aren’t a surprise. Karim Adeyemi is since the winter break part of the first team of RB Salzburg as he showed such incredible performances for Liefering that they are now trying to integrate him in the first team. Chukwubuike Adamu is the second player who stands out as he has the best goal conversion with 34.62%. The second player is Marvin Hernaus who scored 0.45 non-penalty goals per 90 minutes this season.
Chukwubuike Adamu, 18 years old, Liefering
The 18-year-old is born in Nigeria, but has an Austrian passport and also already played for the U18 and U19 sides of Austria. The young striker stood out in the graph above due to his great goal conversion rate with 34.62%. The fact that he plays 13.7 passes per game also shows us that he tries to get involved in the attacks of his team. Even though he also scored goals from penalties, he still has a great value for non-penalty goals per game with 0.55.
Marvin Hernaus, 19 years old, Kapfenberg
Hernaus is just 19 years old but he’s already, along with Paul Mensah, the best goal scorer of Kapfenberg in this season (both scored four goals). However, Hernaus needed way fewer minutes for that compared to Mensah and has a value of 0.45 goals per 90 minutes and none of them was from a penalty kick. His goal conversion rate is also quite good with 23.08% and he plays on average 11.12 passes per match which shows us that he also tries to support his teammates in progressing the ball further up the pitch.
All in all, there are great talents in this league but you have to consider that the level of Austria’s second division is not too high and in the light of this, it’s questionable how good their performance and stats would be in a different league. However, some of these players are 20 years old or even younger and already important for their team’s tactics and it would be no surprise if we saw them in the Austrian Bundesliga next season.
Especially the players of Liefering and Juniors OÖ are not far away from it since any time they could be promoted to the first team of RB Salzburg or LASK Linz. The two young men who stand out in my eyes are Seiwald who is an incredible allrounder in the central midfield and the striker Adamu. Since both are players of Liefering, we will likely see them in the next season playing for RB Salzburg, but that depends on how many players RBS sell and buy in the upcoming window.