Nicoline Sorensen 2019/2020 – scout report
Everton Women had a solid 2019/2020 season, finishing sixth. They have already been busy in the transfer market so far, bringing in former Bristol City Women left-back Poppy Pattinson, Norway defender Ingrid Moe Wold and Denmark centre back Rikke Sevecke. However, one player who has joined who can really excite the Everton fans is Denmark forward Nicoline Sorensen. With striker Chloe Kelly having left to join Manchester City Women, it seems that Sorensen, who scored 16 goals for Brondby in the Elitedivisionen last season, and was named the league player of the season, has been brought in as a replacement. This scout report will look at Sorensen’s game in more detail, seeing what she will add to Everton’s tactics.
Creating space and passing options
The tactical analysis begins with us looking at how Sorensen creates space for her team. There are several ways that she does this.
In both of these images, we see the same thing happening. The ball is in the central area of the pitch, being played forward into the space. Sorensen, circled in both images, is looking to run onto the ball, behind the opposing defences.
In the first image, there are three opposing players blocking the ball’s progress forwards. Therefore, Sorensen’s forward run ensures that the attack can keep going. As she is ahead of the ball, she offers a passing option forward of the ball, and this means that, even when the ball is in a congested area, there is always an option in the space to move the ball into, ensuring that the attack can continue.
The final thing to mention is the enormity of the gaps in the opposing defences. This means that the defenders are unable to stop the ball getting through to Sorensen, proving to us that her movements forwards are a crucial element in Brondby’s attacking play.
Here, we see the same thing, in that Sorensen has run onto the ball from a forward position. This time, she has not run straight through, instead cutting inside to take control of it early, which puts her in a good position to then have a shot at goal. Again, you can see how much space there is in the opposing defence, meaning they can’t stop the ball reaching the new Everton forward. Given this, it is perhaps clear to see why Sorensen ended up with 16 goals this season, as it’s clear that she has the ability to see where the space is, offer the passing option high up the pitch, and punish defences who allow the ball to reach her.
Now, we will look at how she anticipates where the ball will go, which allows her to get into spaces to shoot from.
In the image above, we see how she is in the central area of the pitch, and has played the ball out to her teammate, who is in the yellow square with the ball. Sorensen’s next movement is crucial though. She runs into the box, as the yellow arrow illustrates, and this enables her to then get the ball back and score.
This sounds relatively simple, but let’s break it down. Firstly, Sorensen has the confidence to play the ball into a congested area, as she does here. She then knows where to run to, therefore anticipating the play, and when she gets the ball back, her excellent spatial awareness means she in the right area to shoot from. In the WSL next season, it’s clear that teams playing Everton will need to tighten up at the back, otherwise Sorensen may find herself scoring a lot of goals from these positions.
This example shows again how she anticipates the play, seeing where the best position to receive the ball is. The ball is on the left of the box, as we look at it, in the yellow square, and Sorensen this time doesn’t have as much space to work in. However, she sees that there is a small gap between the two defenders in front of her, and makes the movement through that space. You can see how the opposing defence have come up to the edge of the box, leaving the space behind open, and this is where Sorensen looks to move into.
However, she does this in a clever way. As the yellow arrow shows, she curves her run. This means that she gives the impression to the defence that she is going to move towards the ball, which means they move that way to stop the ball coming into her. Sorensen then changes her run towards goal, receiving the ball behind the defensive line.
This therefore shows how she anticipates where the ball is going, and creates the space for herself to run through and meet it in a dangerous area.
The final example in this section shows us another way that Sorensen uses the space on the pitch. Here, she is playing between the defensive and midfield lines of the opposition. These are marked by the black lines in the image. Sorensen is in the yellow circle in between them.
Initially, you might imagine that this is a strong position for the opposition to be in, because Sorensen is in between both sections of the team. However, look at it this way. The midfield knows that as soon as the ball goes past them, as it is already doing, they are out of the game. They can try to help take back the ball, but will then lose control of the midfield areas. The defence know that they cannot come any further forward than they already are, because there is still the risk that Sorensen will move behind them. Therefore, both lines are pinned back from each other.
The other thing that Sorensen’s positioning does is to ensure that there is a link between the players in front of the opposing midfield and those behind the opposing defence. Without this, there would be a greater chance that one of these two lines would have intercepted the ball, but with Sorensen there, this is not likely to happen, because neither line can move, as we mentioned before.
This section of the analysis has served to show us how Nicoline Sorensen plays an important role in her team’s attacking play, creating space and passing options in many different ways. Now we will look more at her positioning, both on the wings and in the central areas.
Playing as a winger
Firstly, we will look at how she featured as a winger in Brondby’s games last season.
These two images show us how Nicoline Sorensen is always available in the wider areas when Brondby need her to be. Again, you can see how she is ahead of the ball, but is not looking this time to get into the box. Instead, she intends to be the provider of the ball in these examples. She has taken up a position in space, with little pressure from the opposition in either image.
Essentially, what this gives Brondby here is a constant source of balls into the box. That means that they can get players into the box, knowing that, at some point, there will be a cross that they can get on the end of. This is a key role to play in the team, because it affects the whole team.
To explain, if there wasn’t this constant source of balls into the box, then it is likely that Brondby would not attack so often, and would seek instead to run towards the ball, making the pitch very small. This would then leave the box empty of attackers, and make defending against them very simple. However, because Sorensen is in these positions, Brondby move into different central areas in the box, stretching the opposing defence apart. This creates more gaps, ensuring that Brondby always have the advantage in attacking situations.
However, when in these positions, she doesn’t only look to cross the ball into the box and provide opportunities for her teammates in the middle. Here, she has the ball on the opposite wing, but this time, she is attempting to shoot at goal. Therefore, what we can see and conclude from Sorensen’s role as a winger is that she is a threat in two ways; as a creator and as a goal scorer.
This also shows us how versatile she is, because we have seen how she plays on both wings, and this is another very useful thing to have in a player. She can also do whatever job is needed, whether that is crossing or having a shot at goal, and so at Everton next season, we can expect that she will be deployed in the wider areas with this in mind. Everton scored 21 goals in their 14 matches last season, and were very inconsistent, as their final five games saw them lose three, win one and draw one. Manager Willie Kirk will no doubt want to improve on that next season; having a player who can be as influential in the final third as Sorensen will no doubt help that.
The final point to make in this section is how she plays as part of a forward line.
In this example, we see how Brondby are attacking in a line against the opposing defence, with the ball on the far side of the box. The wide structure of the attacking line means that the defence is stretched, and gaps have appeared in between the defenders.
Sorensen is playing as the winger, and is the player nearest to us, in the yellow circle. By being in this position, she has ensured that there will always be a way for Brondby to get a clear sight at goal. If the defence is too strong in the central channel, it can be moved to Sorensen, who can then cross or shoot as required, as we have seen in the previous examples.
Playing in central areas
Now we will turn our focus to how Nicoline Sorensen features when in the central areas.
Here, we see Sorensen playing almost as an attacking midfielder, with options either side of her. What this shows us is that, as well as playing as a winger, she can also operate through the middle, and is as adept in this role. Here, she is looking to play the ball out into the wings, where the space is, because her path ahead has been blocked by the opposing defence. Therefore, again, she is aware of where she is, what is ahead of her, and where is best to pass the ball to so that the attack can continue. This is another quality she will bring to Everton next season.
Here, she has run inside from the wing into the central area, because this is where she knows she will get the ball from her teammate. This is another example of how she reads the play and positions herself where she knows she will have an effect on her team’s attacking play.
She has changed her positioning to come inside because that is where the space is, and, by putting herself in the gap between the opposing defenders, she has offered herself as a passing option from where she can get a shot away. When you look at situations like this, where she shows her football brain to get into the right areas, it’s not hard to see why she scored 16 league goals last season and was the league’s player of the season.
This shows us another way that Sorensen anticipates the play. The ball is with her teammate, in the yellow square, and there is space centrally for the ball to be passed into. This links back to the first section of this scout report, when we looked at her runs into space, helping her team to move the ball into dangerous areas. Here, she is doing just this. Again, she has come forward from a central attacking midfield position, showing us how versatile she is, and how effective she can be for Everton next season as a result.
This final example demonstrates how she can play in tighter areas. Here, she was ahead of the ball, and has run through the gap between the two defenders, as we can see. This therefore confirms two things for us; firstly, she constantly plays as high up the pitch as she can, whilst still offering an option for her teammates; secondly, she sees where the space is, and where she can be effective, and ensures that she does what she can to get the ball into those areas. From this example, she scores, which shows you how dangerous she can be when allowed to play in these central areas, as well as in wider positions.
Before we end this tactical analysis, we need to have a quick look at Nicoline Sorensen’s statistics from last season.
Essentially, what this table shows us is all the key things that Sorensen does for her team; shooting, crossing, passing, and duelling with defenders. The values in red are the higher value for that category.
We need to remember that Everton’s statistics are for the whole team, whilst Sorensen’s are only her individual values. However, given Everton only scored five more goals than Sorensen last season, despite the Danish league restarting when the WSL didn’t, it’s a fairly safe bet to assume that she will aid this, and they will carry more of a threat next season.
We can also see how passing is better for Sorensen than for Everton, but the biggest difference is in forward passes and passes to the final third. In those categories, the Denmark forward had an increase of 10.5% and 30.9% respectively from Everton’s values in the same categories. Therefore, from this, we can expect Everton to be more threatening next season, and to carry even more of a threat, because they will be getting the ball into forward positions even more. This is likely also to be because of Sorensen’s aforementioned ability to play high up the pitch, helping her team to get balls into forward areas.
In conclusion, we can see how Nicoline Sorensen’s signing will benefit Everton Women next season. We have analysed how Sorensen plays in wider areas and centrally, and is therefore a versatile option in the final third, and how she creates space and passing options for her team. Everton played in a 4-2-3-1 formation 42% of the time last season, and a 4-3-3 14% of the time, and in these formations, Sorensen could take up a role in any of the three positions behind the striker in the first formation, or as a winger either side of the striker in the second.