Johan Bångsbo: The towering defender from Sweden making a name for himself with IFK Göteborg – scout report
Johan Bångsbo has recently made an impact in the 2022 Allsvenskan. After a period of being sat on the bench waiting for his chance, the youngster was given the opportunity. Now he accumulates nine straight games as a starter in the first team of IFK Goteborg. His solidity and talent have made him one of the best and most regular players in his team, and also one of the most promising centre-backs in the league.
The Allsvenskan has recently shone for being a really interesting and exciting league to find youngsters or players in every position with technique and intelligence on the field, and so Johan is one of them.
This tactical analysis and scout report piece will take an in-depth look at the strengths that Johan Bångsbo possesses, and how he has made his way to becoming probably, the best young centre-back in the competition.
Born in Sweden in 2003, Johan is an IFK Goteborg academy product. Left-footed centre-back, with 6’3 ft tall, he has already made 12 appearances as a professional footballer, registering +1000 minutes in his first season, winning the coach’s confidence after two starts on the team. He has also debuted with the Sweden U-19 national team.
Defending the box
In IFK Goteborg’s tactics, he’s located on the left side of the defence. The 19-year-old normally plays on a back-four, alongside Carl Johansson who deploys as the right-centre-back. Johan shows a great technique to defend in every area of the pitch., but one of Bångsbo’s keys to his game is his defensive awareness inside the box, and how he uses his body to orientate players to make a bad shot or to do a turnover. Johan is a smart and tough player to beat when in the penalty box. His physicality and mental agility help his team so much to block shots or intercept dangerous passes coming to the six-yard box.
In the picture below we can see Bångsbo facing a transition where the winger is trying to find a teammate in a dangerous position inside the penalty area. As you can see, he has already scanned beside him, knowing that there aren’t any rivals coming to threaten him and then keeps maintaining a good position to block a possible pass or shot. The action ends in a shot from that distance, saved by the goalkeeper.
Also considering his height, he’s a very hard player to beat with crosses to the penalty area. He has the concentration and technique to clear the ball every time he’s needed against this kind of delivery. Johan knows where to clear it and how. He doesn’t want to leave a rebound in front of his teammates or goalkeepers, so he always tries to head the ball to his sides, corner or outside the area.
He’s a very disciplined player. The timing to tackle and the way he uses the exact power needed to dispose of a player inside the box make him a very clean player when defending and rarely makes a dangerous foul that could compromise his team to concede a goal.
Johan is scanning every time he’s forced to get into the box. That’s why he’s such an interesting player, because of the maturity he shows on the pitch with his age. He knows that he has to watch every option that are making movements in the box, doing it very quick to not lose concentration on the next step of his opponent. The Swedish is rarely anticipated by a rival player to make a shot in front of him. He’s very smart to know how much space between the lines he has to leave, and when to go to try to steal the ball or make a clearance.
In the example above we see again the 19-year-old in a similar situation, but this time the winger is wide open looking for a cross into the box. He has one forward at his back but another time we see him scanning all the options. The cross is executed, and thanks to his good positioning, leaving the exact space between the forward and his full-back that was trying to close down the delivery. He intercepts the low-cross and clears the ball out.
Here, we see another situation inside the box, but this time he had to jump out of his line because the full-back was dribbled past. He does it well, covering the runs in behind him and intercepting the upcoming cross from the winger, this time sending it to a corner kick.
Defending on a high block
Modern football has evolved to teams playing with a high defensive line. This is to press very high on the pitch and accumulate more people in the attacking phase. IFK Goteborg try to be a possession-based side that put their lines high on the pitch. This can be positive for what we say before: Pressure and more players to attack, also being far from their goal kick is another feature; But being too high on the pitch can be risky if you have defenders that aren’t quick enough to make the return in transitions.
The example below shows the first part of an incredible action, that was started very close to the middle of the pitch. The winger received a ball in an open space to roam freely against the goalkeeper, with numerical and positional superiority, with a teammate making a run to the box. Johan was in front of these two, so he has decided to shadow the option behind him, and orientate the winger wide, with help of his full-back too.
He ended the action perfectly: The full-back reached the winger but the opponent was beating him on a very physical 1v1 duel. Johan accelarated his run and went to make a glorious slide tackle to block the shot and send it to a corner kick.
To succeed as a CB in modern football you have to be proactive, and Johan Bångsbo meets the requirements. He knows when and where he has to jump from his line to go tackle some players or intercept passes. When playing in a high line, rival teams try to beat centre-backs with long balls, to make quick transitions with players attacking their backs.
So when Johan is forced into an aerial battle after a long ball from the opponents, he does not win too many of them. Even with his height, Johan is a bit slow to react and rivals normally jump first over him and win the duel. But when he’s not under pressure, he does it very relaxed and almost every time finds a teammate after the clearance.
Below, it’s an action that describes very good what we are explaining of his aerial duels. When he’s out of pressure and has time to solve, like in the picture shown under the text, he does it really nice. Nevertheless, when the attackers go and fight him up there, he loses.
Players often make runs in-behind the defence to catch them in a hazardous situation, where they have to face 1v1 situations. Johan does really well closing down opponents in this kind of position because he has the ability to time his run to close the pass beside him and then make a quick stride to tackle the opponent.
Above, we see a 1v1 situation where he was forced to after a long ball from the opponent’s defenders. The forward was looking to get the ball and caught IFK Goteborg in a risky situation, but Bångsbo was clever and more agile to recover the ball. Again, he showed his ability to play on a high block.
Johan also is very committed to covering his teammates, especially his full-backs when they go up to be part of the attack, he goes and offers coverage for them orientating the winger to the sideline where they had to face a tight space situation while Bångsbo waited for his full-back to appear.
The picture below us doesn’t represent a high block situation at all, but it shows how he can go without any problem, and offer coverage to his full-back, which is running back from attack to defence. On this occasion, Johan orientated the forward to the sideline, where he didn’t solve the tight-space situation against him and lost the ball to a throw-in for IFK Goteborg.
In possession, Johan is a safe option from the back for his team. Technical and left-footed, he acts great under pressure and has the ability to find new angles making turns or progressive runs to open lanes and see better options to connect with. Usually, he tends to pass it to his left-back, who goes on to a very high position on the field and the centre-back.
Also, the 19-year-old possesses the technique to realize long passes, diagonally changing the side of the game, or to his winger. Occasionally, Johan breaks lines through the middle of the park trying to find teammates that appear in the half-space. Although the team doesn’t tend to place players in central areas and more wide, when the time is right and someone is asking for the ball in the half-spaces or in the middle, he looks to get the ball there.
Anyways, something he has to get better at is that he has to be more aggressive with his distribution decisions, as he is very basic with some of his passes during the game.
Creating new passing angles is one of the best things he has when on the ball. Below Johan is orientated to the right side of the pitch, but he quickly turns his body to the left, makes a progressive run to the zone pointed out and then looks to connect with his forward with a diagonal ball.
Here we see an example of how he executes good through-balls when the opportunity occurs, as the left-centre-midfielder makes a run to get away from his marker and be found freely in the half-space, thanks to a good pass from Bångsbo, that he executes without a problem with his weak foot, and being under pressure.
Another time, we find out that Johan is very good and effective when he dares to find a teammate in the high lanes of the pitch. In this picture below, he again makes a progressive run to create a new passing angle, he finds the hole through the lines and makes a great execution.
Finally, we see another moment where he was brave to make progress and not to pass it to the full-back or his centre-back partner. The forward recognizes the free space, and points Johan where he wants the ball. He makes the run and the 19-year-old performs a brilliant pass.
As told before, Johan needs to be more agile to win aerial battles against strikers. Normally, you can see the forwards from the rival team go and pin him up because they react faster and jump earlier than him, losing these aerial duels. Considering his height, this shouldn’t be a weakness in his game. He’s only 19-year-old so with more experience on the field, he will surely get better in this kind of situation.
In possession, we explain that he needs to be more aggressive and try to find teammates with vertical passes that could break up the lines of pressure from the opponents. Even though he’s very good and secure with the ball, he needs to be more frequent with these through balls that normally result in great executions. When he does it, he adds a great item to his playing style. In modern football, everybody loves a centre-back finding teammates in dangerous areas from the back.
Finally, Johan is not the quickest player in transition but he compensates for this weakness with great timing and power to beat attackers and lay them down.
Johan Bångsbo is a top talent growing day by day in his mother country, Sweden. As said at the start of this analysis, the Allsvenskan is becoming a league where teams usually go and try to find quality talents for their teams, and we think the 19-year-old is going to be one of these signings in the future.
Recently we have seen Isak Hien, the former Djurgarden centre-back, being sold to Hellas Verona in Italy. At his 23, Isak has shown the world of football that the Sweden League should be one to watch very closely.
With his height, his physicality, his intelligence, his distribution getting better and braver every match, and his defending skills that are on the very top of his team, Johan is clearly going to get things going on a big stage in the upcoming years. He has even been linked already with Liverpool and Bayer Leverkusen, by some Swedish outlets, also saying that his call to the National Team is coming. IFK Goteborg have a gem in their hands.