Why Norway wonderkid Elisabeth Terland could be a shrewd signing for Brighton – scout report
With the excitement of Euro 2022 now over, the focus of many women’s football fans has turned back to their domestic clubs, with new seasons set to commence within the next weeks. Plenty of teams have been active in the summer transfer window as they look to improve and develop their squads, and the WSL’s 12 sides have been no exception.
However, whilst big names have rightly attracted attention from fans and writers alike, there is one arrival in the English game that has gone slightly under the radar – young Norway forward Elisabeth Terland. The 21-year-old joined Brighton and Hove Albion Women earlier this month from current Toppserien (the top Norwegian women’s league) leaders Brann Kvinner, and is a very highly-rated player, having been included in UEFA’s 2022 list of “Ten Women’s Players To Watch” and having featured for her country during the recent tournament.
In order to see what she will bring to Hope Powell’s team, this tactical analysis will look in closer detail at her individual qualities, assessing where she might fit tactically into Brighton’s lineup. The scout report will also identify where she can continue to improve her game as the season progresses, with there being plenty of opportunities for her to develop as a player during her time in the WSL.
The first area of Elisabeth Terland’s game to focus on is her spatial awareness, looking specifically at how she identifies gaps around the field and uses them to link play up for her team. Given that Brighton’s tactics under former England boss Powell have generally revolved around keeping the ball on the ground where possible, this is one way in which the Norway international can fit in with her new team’s preferred way of playing.
When playing for her country, it has been common to see Terland in a front two, as was the case against Portugal in the Algarve Cup earlier this year. However, what is worth noting is that, when the team has the ball in these areas of the pitch, the front two split and becomes a target player and a playmaker, with one player staying back and one going forwards. In this case, with Celin Bizet Ildhusøy running forwards, Terland stays back and positions herself in between the six Portuguese players between the ball and the goal.
What this gives Norway is a way of building their attack with more accuracy and precision, as the alternative would be that Frida Maanum, in the blue circle, would need to pass directly into the space behind and risk the ball being either over or under hit. Therefore, Terland now has a crucial role in providing the link between them, and that is reflected in Arsenal Women midfielder Maanum passing to her first. As it turned out, that pass was overhit and Portugal’s right-back Catarina Amado was allowed to clear her lines, but the point still stands that Terland’s awareness to see where the gaps are makes her an important player for her team to have on the pitch.
However, her preferred role is getting forward and scoring goals, and she is just as capable of making runs into dangerous areas and creating problems for opponents as she is at staying back and offering shorter passing options. Here, she has spotted Rosenborg Kvinner’s high back line and looked to give her teammate the quick option of transferring the ball into the space behind, enabling Brann to break their opponents down and catch them out. Again, Terland’s positioning is critical here, because she is ahead of the ball and angling to make the run before her teammate has turned to look for a pass, which shows how the young Norwegian anticipates play well and always looks to help her team play at a good speed.
What Brighton will gain from this is Terland’s ability to see opportunities and make early runs, not only because it will give them another significant goal threat but also because it will aid them in their pressing tactics. Last season, Hope Powell’s side tended to get tight to their opponents when out of possession and when they had the opportunity to do so, and that was a key factor in their strong start to the campaign. However, with several major players now departed, they have been looking for quick players who are happy to get on the front foot and take the initiative, and what has been key from this section is that Terland fits that particular profile well.
Working with teammates
The second aspect of Elisabeth Terland’s play that needs exploring is her ability to work with teammates in different areas of the pitch, again, helping them to move the ball around and continually cause problems for their opponents. This comes from her ability to fit into different systems and game plans, which is something that Brighton will undoubtedly benefit from as the season goes on.
Brann’s tactics so far in the 2022 season have not been too dissimilar to Brighton’s, with both sides preferring to keep the ball on the ground and play through their opponents. For Brann, this has earnt them 43 points from their 16 league games so far (with 14 of those being wins), whilst they have also scored 49 goals, comfortably the most in the division. Therefore, their attacking quality cannot be underestimated.
How Terland has fitted into this varies, because, as mentioned, she can stay deep or play a central striking role. When operating as a playmaker, she has been tasked with combining with teammates and moving the ball through tight spaces, and this situation shows her doing just that. On this occasion, former West Ham United Women right-back Cecilie Redisch Kvamme is the one making the forward run, but it could be anyone and the focus is very much on exposing spaces left open by the defenders.
One of Terland’s key qualities that is particularly important here is her passing speed, as she doesn’t hesitate and keeps the ball moving with decisive touches. This is reflected in her passing accuracy so far in 2022 of 71.9%, as well as her 58.8% accuracy specifically for through passes, and both of these statistics highlight how passing in tight spaces is one of her key strengths. Therefore, when in games where spaces are compact during the coming season, Brighton have the perfect player to help them move the ball around and keep the pressure on their opponents.
However, Terland is just as effective when in open areas of the pitch, keeping that composure and always working with teammates to create opportunities. Here, in Norway’s recent 2023 Women’s World Cup qualifier against Poland, she is looking to advance up the field but has seen her move ended by Polish left-back Zofia Buszewska. Instead of looking backwards and starting again, she keeps the ball and waits for the right moment to release it, knowing that Barcelona Femení winger Caroline Graham Hansen is moving outside her to provide a passing option in space.
Whilst Hansen’s subsequent run is ended by a combination of midfielder Adriana Achcińska and PSG Féminine centre-back Paulina Dudek, the intent was there from Norway, and it once again came down to Terland’s ability to work with her teammates to find the right opportunities. Therefore, Brighton can rely on her when in possession to make the right decisions in order to build up attacks.
Players who can attack and defend with equal quality are particularly coveted by managers, given that not all defenders are effective in the final third and not all forwards prove helpful when in their own third. However, Terland has shown for club and country that she can be just as effective when her team are out of possession as she is when they have it. Here, she has got out to Juventus Femminile forward Valentina Cernoia during Norway’s match with Italy in the Algarve Cup, seeing the danger early and preventing Cernoia from delivering a cross into the middle.
The reason that she does this is that Norway are not prepared at this stage to deal with the cross, meaning that Italy would have the advantage and a good chance of scoring. However, by Cernoia being slowed down and forced to take an extra touch, the defenders have more time to close off the gaps that were previously open. As a result, when Cernoia’s cross does go into the middle, Norway get the first connection on it and clear their lines. This demonstrates again how Terland’s awareness is important for her team, and her ability to work with teammates and slow opposing play down is critical to them being hard to beat.
Whilst this analysis has so far focused on different areas of Elisabeth Terland’s individual game, it should be mentioned that one of the primary reasons for Hope Powell signing her was because, in the Brighton boss’ words, she gives them really good options in advanced positions. Therefore, this scout report will now focus on this statement and identify which roles Terland would be capable of playing in, and which might suit her best.
Firstly, Terland is a natural striker who looks to get behind opposing defences and into areas where she can score goals, which is a point that this scout report has mentioned on many occasions. Here, she takes the ball around Vålerenga Damer centre-back Stine Ballisager, using her speed and ability to change direction quickly to prevent the Denmark defender from tackling her on the way through, and that shows her ability to beat opponents in 1-v-1 duels, which will be a useful skill to have at Brighton this season. Again, she remains composed on the ball and waits for the right moment to make her move around Ballisager, and the fact that 10 of Brann’s 49 goals to date have come from her shows her potency in these areas of the pitch.
However, she can also pose a threat from deeper areas, shooting from distance and keeping opponents guessing about when she might decide to have a go at goal. Here, she is in roughly the same position as the previous situation, with an LSK Kvinner defender ahead of her, and she beats the defender in another easy 1-v-1 duel. However, rather than taking a few touches and waiting until she gets closer to LSK’s goal, she shoots with her next touch and forces the goalkeeper into a difficult save, and that ability to vary her shooting range and be accurate with each one is why she is such a highly-rated and dangerous opponent.
This is what Brighton will be particularly happy to have in their squad because it will make them a more difficult opponent to second-guess. Given that both Ellie Brazil (daughter of Nottingham Forest academy manager Gary) and Dutch international Inessa Kaagman both moved on this summer, joining Tottenham Hotspur Women and PSV Vrouwen respectively, it is likely that Terland will be used at times in an attacking midfield role. As a result, her ability to shoot from different ranges will help her new team to pose a threat from all over the pitch, giving Brighton a bigger goal threat and potentially helping them to improve on last season’s seventh-placed finish in the WSL.
Terland can also play and has played as a winger, helping to stretch play out and create gaps in the middle for her teammates, so this is another role that Brighton could consider her for as Powell tries to find the right combinations ahead of the new campaign. However, if she were to play in the wide channels, the Norway international would need to work on her crosses, because there have been occasions when space has been available for her to move the ball into and she has lacked quality with her subsequent delivery, meaning that chances have not been taken.
On this occasion, Vålerenga have forced the mistake, with Ballisager moving back and forcing Terland to push the ball further in front of where she would normally aim for, but the fact that her crossing accuracy is just 20% demonstrates that this is not one of her strong points. There is nothing to say that she wouldn’t be able to grow into this role and improve during her time on the south coast, but it is something that Brighton should be aware of when assessing where best to use her this season.
In conclusion, this tactical analysis has looked at new Brighton and Hove Albion Women forward Elisabeth Terland, focusing on the different qualities that she will bring to Broadfield Stadium (the home of Brighton and EFL side Crawley Town) during the coming campaign.
It is possible that, given her age, Hope Powell might not start her immediately and, instead, afford her time to settle, but there is also a possibility that, given the departures from Brighton in key attacking positions this summer, she might be handed a vital role in the team from the first game. Either way, it is highly likely that she will be used to replace the pace and creativity of players like Brazil and Kaagman, as this is the area where they need quality in order to make the rest of their team tick.
It is also worth noting that Terland is not the only new face at Brighton, with the club having been busy strengthening the squad in different areas in order to challenge in more games this season. As well as the Norwegian, they have also added English left-back Poppy Pattinson from Everton Women, Greece striker Veatriki Sarri from relegated Birmingham City Women and South Korea midfielder Park Ye-eun, as well as re-signing New Zealand defender Rebekah Stott.
Nevertheless, given the reputation that she is quickly building and the promise that so many see in her, plenty of eyes will be on Terland this season, with fans hoping that she will be the one to take Brighton to the next level.