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Finding the best centre-backs in the Eliteserien – data analysis

Finding the best centre-backs in the Eliteserien – data analysis

In this data analysis piece, we will be looking out for the best centre-backs currently playing in Eliteserien using statistics. Centre-backs in the modern game have evolved a lot. No longer do we find them only defending and being part of the backline to defend, They play a huge role in the team’s attacking success too by starting attacks from the deep.

In our analysis, we will be considering both the attacking as well as defensive attributes. We will be looking at players who have registered at least 800 minutes of football in the 2022 league season. Also, only proper centre-backs are taken into consideration, i.e. no makeshift options included.

We will shortlist the best options according to the statistics and data analysis. In this piece, we look into the players who might make the jump to a better league soon. Let’s dive deep into the analysis.

Defensive Duels

The key aspect in which centre-backs are often considered is how they engage in the duels and how well they complete and win them successfully. From the likes of Virgil van Dijk to Sergio Ramos, all of these modern-day defenders are very good at challenging and competing even with the strongest and quickest of players. So we look into such players in our first section where we compare the Eliteserien defenders based on the number of defensive duels they attempt per game and the success rate.

Finding the best centre-backs in the Eliteserien – data analysis statistics

Casper Øyvann – The 22-year-old centre-back from Tromso has averaged 6.51 defensive duels per game this season with a brilliant success rate of 84%. He also made 0.31 fouls per game in the league the season.

Niklas Gunnarsson – The 31-year-old centre-back from Strømsgodset has recorded 7.15 defensive duels per game this season with a brilliant success rate of 76.5%. He also made 1.2 fouls per game in the league the season, which is slightly above average compared to the other defenders in the league.

Alexander Juel Andersen – The 31-year-old centre-back from Aalesund has recorded 7.38 defensive duels per game this season with a brilliant success rate of 74.8%. He also made 0.4 fouls per game in the league the season, which is below average compared to the other defenders in the league.

Eirik Haugan – The 25-year-old centre-back from Molde has averaged 8.86 defensive duels per game this season with a brilliant success rate of 74.5%. He also made 1.02 fouls per game in the league the season.

Jostein Maurstad Gundersen – The 26-year-old centre-back from Tromso has averaged 8.17 defensive duels per game this season with a brilliant success rate of 71%. He also made 1.11 fouls per game in the league the season which is quite high compared to other CBs where he keeps making at least one foul per game on average.

Defensive Positioning

It’s a well-known fact that defending is not just about diving into tackles and making challenges to win the ball back. Though these are some of the things that get the crowd going, they are not the only thing that any defender should be doing. It is very important for a defender to read the play and intercept passes to block lanes since these have very little room for making errors and equally being effective in suppressing the opposition’s threat.

Finding the best centre-backs in the Eliteserien – data analysis statistics

Jesper Taaje – The 24-year-old centre-back from Sandefjord has averaged 8.39 interceptions per game with a possession-adjusted value of 11.67. He has recorded 11.47 successful defensive actions per game.

Gustav Valsvik – The 29-year-old centre-back from Strømsgodset has recorded 7.45 interceptions per game with a possession-adjusted value of 9.15. He has recorded 11.81 successful defensive actions per game.

Hasan Kuruçay – The 25-year-old centre-back from HamKam has averaged 8.27 interceptions per game with a possession-adjusted value of 8.67. He has recorded 12.16 successful defensive actions per game.

Eirik Haugan – The 25-year-old Molde centre-back has averaged 5.64 interceptions per game with a possession-adjusted value of 7.31. He also has recorded a league-high 13.16 successful defensive actions per game.

Ari Leifsson – The 23-year-old centre-back from Strømsgodset has recorded 7.45 interceptions per game with a possession-adjusted value of 8.15. He also has recorded 11.55 successful defensive actions per game.

Aerial Ability

Most of the teams these days still use long ball techniques to attack, so the ability to win an aerial duel against the opposition’s forward is a bonus. It also helps teams during set-pieces while defending. Centre-backs especially have to deal with tall centre-forwards of the opposition who may possess a great threat aerially.

Finding the best centre-backs in the Eliteserien – data analysis statistics

John Olav Norheim – The 27-year-old centre-back from Jerv has recorded a league-high 11.1 aerial duels per game with a success rate of 52.49%. On average he has won 5.82 aerial duels per game in the league this season, which is a very good value as well.

Jørgen Horn – The 35-year-old veteran centre-back from Sarpsborg has averaged 6.62 aerial duels per game with a success rate of 72%, which is amongst the league’s highest. On average he has won 4.76 aerial duels per game in the league this season.

Tom Pettersson – The 32-year-old centre-back from Lillestrom has averaged 6.84 aerial duels per game with a success rate of 63.7%. On average he has won 4.35 aerial duels per game in the league this season.

Jesper Taaje – The 24-year-old centre-back from Lillestrom has recorded 6.42 aerial duels per game with a success rate of 69.8%. On average he has won 4.48 aerial duels per game in the league this season.

Gustav Valsvik – The Strømsgodset centre-back has averaged 5.9 aerial duels per game with a success rate of 68.97%. On average he has won 4 aerial duels per game in the league this season.

Ball Progression

In this section, we’ll analyse the list of defenders we have based on a tendency to move the ball forward and also their ability to progress the attack both with their passing as well as carrying.

Finding the best centre-backs in the Eliteserien – data analysis statistics

Brede Moe – The 30-year-old centre-back from Bodo / Glimt has recorded 13.16 progressive passes per game and a league-high 4.8 progressive runs per game. He also had a progressive passing accuracy of 75.42% which is a solid conversion rate.

Isak Helstad Amundsen – The 22-year-old from Bodo/Glimt has averaged a whopping 14.93 progressive passes per game and 3.23 progressive runs per game. He also had a progressive passing accuracy of 85.81% which is an excellent conversion rate.

Gianni Stensness – The 23-year-old centre-back from Viking has averaged a whopping 15.66 progressive passes, the highest in the league amongst centre-backs, per game and 1.68 progressive runs per game. He also had a progressive passing accuracy of 79.66% which is an excellent conversion rate.

Bjørn Utvik – The 22-year-old from Sarpsborg has averaged a whopping 14.45 progressive passes per game and 2.32 progressive runs per game. He also had a progressive passing accuracy of 80.49% which is an excellent conversion rate.

David Brekalo – The 23-year-old from Viking has recorded 10.98 progressive passes per game and 3.29 progressive runs per game. He also had a progressive passing accuracy of 75.53% which is an excellent conversion rate.

Playmaking and Passing Ability

Modern-day centre-backs are widely rated upon their ability to perform with the ball. Top teams across Europe like Manchester CityLiverpool, and Real Madrid all have quality ball-playing centre-backs with them. Their ability to break the pressing of the opposition acts as a first step towards building up to a goal.

Finding the best centre-backs in the Eliteserien – data analysis statistics

Isak Helstad Amundsen – The 22-year-old centre-back has averaged a league-high 92.02 passes per game and 23.4, which is the league’s highest from a centre-back, have been passed into the final third with an accuracy of 85.81%, which again is a very good value.

Brede Moe – The 30-year-old centre-back from Bodo / Glimt has recorded 89.11 passes per game on average and 16.95 of them have been those that moved the ball into the final third. He also completed his passes into the final third with an accuracy of 75.42%.

Gianni Stensness – The 23-year-old Viking CB has averaged 69.38 passes per game on average and 15.93 of them have been those that moved the ball into the final third. He also completed his passes into the final third with an accuracy of 79.66%.

Marius Høibråten – The 27-year-old centre-back from Bood / Glimt has recorded 80.63 passes per game on average and 13.56 of them have been those that moved the ball into the final third. He also completed his passes into the final third with an accuracy of 81.25%.

Bjørn Utvik – The 22-year-old centre-back has averaged 66.34 passes per game on average and 12.58 of them have been those that moved the ball into the final third. He also completed his passes into the final third with an accuracy of 80.49%.

Players to watch out for

Based on the data, we have shortlisted a few options to look out for in the forthcoming season where we expect these centre-backs to take more significant strides.

Isak Helstad Amundsen

The Bodo/Glimt youngster has been a solid performer for them this season and has been one of their key defenders. He has excelled in almost all tributes required from a modern-day centre-back by being very effective in possession, both playmaking and progressing the ball forward.

He has also been a very good defender for them but it doesn’t really reflect in defensive stats due to his team dominating the ball and holding it for a long time. We can see his defensive territory in the image below where we can see that he has made only one foul and has been flawless with his defensive actions for the most part.

Finding the best centre-backs in the Eliteserien – data analysis statistics

Gianni Stensness

The Viking centre-back has been one of the emerging players of this season and has shown much improvement as well. He has been very good on the ball and has been a key contributor for his side in this regard. Defensively, he has done well but can certainly show more improvement, especially in defending 1v1 situations and also being more dominant in the air as well. We can see a lot of instances where he has been a bit exposed on flanks, especially which is mostly the regions where he would perform his 1v1 actions.

Finding the best centre-backs in the Eliteserien – data analysis statistics

Eirik Haugan

The Molde centre-back has been a tremendous performer for the soon-to-be Eliteserien champions as Molde have been utterly dominant in the league and are highly expected to clinch the title after having a 13-point lead over 2nd placed Lillestrom. One of the main reasons for their domination in the league is their defence and Haugan was a very key part of it.

He has been showing decent ability in the defence by being very strong in tackles and also intercepting the ball in high amounts due to his reading of the game. He is also pretty decent on the ball as well and is good enough for Molde to play attacking football although this is one area in which he can improve a lot compared to the other defenders in the league.

We can see that he has a huge defensive territory in the image below where he seems to have been making challenges at every lane on the pitch and the majority of them have come centrally as well.

Finding the best centre-backs in the Eliteserien – data analysis statistics

Conclusion

The Eliteserien possesses some fine centre-backs with most of them being young and with high potential. In this article, we have covered both the attacking as well as defensive traits to discuss and list a few of the best-performing players. A lot of players have been handpicked and have seen themselves playing in multiple top-tier clubs across Europe. We could see that the players discussed may also follow the same path and be successful in the top leagues.