Finding the best centre-forwards from the Danish Superliga – data analysis
In this data analysis piece, we will be identifying centre-forwards (strikers) to be scouted that are currently playing in the 2021/22 Danish Superliga. Strikers in the modern game have evolved a lot. No longer do we see them be a target man, being very tall in the air and bulldozing defenders. The roles of false-9, wide forwards have started to change as to how teams in EPL, La Liga, etc deploy their strikers and use them. We also see very short players playing in these positions that have had great success like Sergio Aguero, Insigne, etc.
In our analysis, we will be looking into the major attributes that are key for a striker to have. We will be looking at players who have registered at least 800 minutes of football in the league so far this season. We will shortlist the top options according to the statistics and data analysis. Let’s get into the analysis.
The first thing we’re looking at is the goal contributions (goals and assists combined). In the graph below, we have the expected goal contributions per 90 on the x-axis and goal contributions per 90 on the y-axis. The colour of the dots represents the xG per game. It is an important metric when it comes to rating or comparing forwards with each other as they are pretty much judged based on their ability to contribute goals to their team.
Junior Brumado – The 22-year old forward from Midtjylland. The Brazilian has played more of a centre-forward this season but has also played some important minutes as a winger. He has recorded 0.51 expected goal contributions per game and 0.89 actual goal contributions per game. In total, he also has 8 goal contributions.
Mikael Uhre – The 27-year old forward from Brondby. The Danish forward has recorded 0.5 expected goal contributions and 0.85 actual ones per game. This is an impressive figure and he is doing it by also performing more than expected.
Jonas Wind – The 22-year old Danish footballer from Copenhagen. The son of former professional footballer Per Wind has recorded 0.64 expected goal contributions and 0.58 actual goal contributions. Though he underperforms his expected contributions, we can see that he is young but still is doing actions that would warrant him more goals and assists combined than the other players. He can develop his execution skills which will definitely see him improve a lot more on the actual ones.
Gustav Isaksen – The 20-year old winger/forward from Midtjylland. The youngster has recorded 0.64 expected goal contributions and 0.44 actual goal contributions. He also has an xG of 0.33 per game which means that almost half of his expected goal contributions goes in xA.
Sebastian Grønning – The 24-year old forward from Viborg FF. The Danish forward has recorded 0.67 expected goal contributions and 0.41 actual goal contributions. Most of his expected contributions are from the xG where he records 0.61 xG per game.
Activity in the box
In this section of the analysis, we’ll assess how active the players in the box are. We have shots per 90 in the x-axis and touches in the box per 90 in the y-axis. The colour shows the xG per shot showing the quality of the shots that the player prefers to take. Strikers specializing in finishing and poaching goals like PSG’s Icardi are expected to have a higher percentage of shots.
Simon Adingra – The 19-year old forward from Nordsjaelland. He records 3.34 shots per game and 5.14 touches in the opposition’s box. The teenager also averages 0.08 xG per shot which means that he prefers to take shots from outside the box and from less valuable zones. Though some youngsters can develop into great goal scorers from outside the box mostly it is better to coach them to not take a lot of shots from outside the box especially from a young age.
Sebastian Grønning – The 24-year old has recorded 2.74 shots per game and 3.99 touches in the box per game. He also has a very good xG per shot value of 0.22 showing that he takes shots from very valuable zones in the box and where there is a high chance of a goal being resulting.
Gustav Isaksen – The 20-year old averages 2.38 shots per game from 3.44 touches inside the opposition’s box per game. He also records 0.14 xG per shot which is a decent measure for someone who has also played as a winger for his team this season.
Jonas Wind – The Copenhagen youngster has recorded 3.05 shots per game from 3.77 touches in the opposition box per game. He also has an xG per shot of 0.17 which is again a very good measure to look into and something that is above the average in the league.
Mikael Uhre – The 27-year old has recorded 2.31 shots per game and 4.7 touches in the opposition box per game. He has also recorded a 0.17 value for xG per shot which is a good value. Though with his experience he can generally get into more valuable zones and accumulate a lot more xG per shot.
An interesting characteristic in a forward is his ability to be an effective target man and receive direct passes. To assess this, we have aerial duels per 90 on the y-axis and the success rate in those duels on the x-axis. To complement this information, the colour shows the number of long passes received by each player.
Jonas Wind – The Copenhagen youngster has recorded 10.86 aerial duels per game and has an accuracy of 43.87% from these situations. He has also received 1.23 long passes per game on average.
Junior Brumado – The Brazilian youngster has recorded 6.98 aerial duels per game and with an accuracy of 42.86%. He has also received 1.77 long passes per game this season.
Abdulrahman Taiwo – The 23-year old Nigerian international from SønderjyskE. He has recorded 4.21 aerial duels per game with an accuracy of 37.21%. He also receives on average 0.59 long passes per game from his teammates which is pretty low compared to the other teams in the league.
Nicklas Helenius – The 30-year old Danish striker who plays for Silkeborg. He has averaged 3.62 aerial duels per game with an accuracy of 38%. He has also received 2.61 long passes per game on average.
Patrick Mortensen – The 32-year old Danish veteran playing for AGF has recorded 11.19 aerial duels per game with an accuracy of 37.25%. He has also received 2.27 long passes per game this season.
Moving more into second-line players, the ability to produce goals is a key one. In this section of the data analysis, we look at expected assists (xA) per 90 in the y-axis and key passes per 90 in the x-axis. The colour of the dots shows the number of secondary assists per 90, which helps us understand how the players help in also facilitating of creation.
Simon Hedlund – The 28-year old Swedish forward from Brondby has averaged 1.17 key passes per game along with an xA of 0.27 per game. Though he hasn’t really made any secondary assists so far for his team, he still is a good facilitator for his side.
Gustav Isaksen – He has recorded 0.71 key passes per game along with 0.31 xA per game. His style of play can be seen from here as he is more of a creative forward and not exactly a goal-scoring one.
Lasso Coulibaly – The 19-year old Ghanian youngster from Nordsjaelland. He has recorded 0.8 key passes per game and also has an xA of 0.14. He has registered 1 secondary assist for his team this season.
Finally, we have a look at the players’ ability to get past rivals and create things by themselves. On the x-axis, we have completed dribbles per 90 and on the y-axis, progressive runs per 90 (a continuous ball control by one player attempting to draw the team significantly closer to the opponent goal). The colour shows offensive duels won per 90.
Simon Adingra – The Nordsjaelland teenager has recorded 5.05 successful dribbles per game and 4.06 progressive runs per game. We can see he is an outlier among the players we have in the graph above. He also wins 6.5 offensive duels on average.
Louka Daniel Prip – The 24-year old forward from Aalborg. He has averaged 3.06 successful dribbles per game and 2.4 progressive runs per game. He also averages 5.1 offensive duels won per game.
Simon Hedlund – The Brondby forward completes 2 successful dribbles per game and 2.41 progressive runs per game. He also wins 5.07 offensive duels per game on average.
Shortlisting the best U-23 options
We have seen some very fine youngsters being discussed statistically in the previous sections. Based on that we would be shortlisting the top 3 options among them.
The teenager from Nordsjaelland is one of the hottest prospects in the Scandinavian region and is one of the blossoming teenagers in the Nordsjaelland setup. Due to their attacking style of play, we can see that he takes a lot of touches and shots for his side. He inclines to take a lot of shots from outside the box, which can be improved further or be coached. He is also a very good dribbler and has a very good skill set with a low centre of gravity. If he can improve his off-ball movement he would develop into much more of a goal threat.
The Midtjylland youngster has had a very good season for the defending champions. He has had a productive season in front of goal and is their top scorer. He is also tall and well built and is very good in the air when his side prefers to go direct with him on the pitch. He also has good off-ball movements and takes shots in good zones though he can definitely improve on that to become a more sustainable forward.
The Copenhagen youngster is their second top scorer after Pep Biel. He excels in front of the goal as well as in the air. He also seems to be very active in the box and takes a good amount of shots too. He is also good at making movements into the box and takes shots from good zones too.
The Superliga possess some very good and young forwards having great potential. We also shortlisted some hot prospects who might be followed by many clubs across the top-5 European leagues. It will be very interesting to the progress of these young players and how well they shape their future.