Norway’s Eliteserien is always a pretty good place to produce scout reports or tactical analyses from. Most teams usually have a number of exciting U23 talents in the senior side. A lot of them are even featured regularly every week.

But unfortunately with the sea of youngsters storming top European leagues nowadays and the rising level of expectations in football, not a lot of Norwegian youngsters really caught the eye of talent scouts. Some have already had a breakout season though and moved on to bigger things in Europe while some did slowly make their way out of Norway to a higher level of football in various teams and various leagues around Europe – but were yet to fully kick in. Meanwhile, many others are still in the country, plying their trade at a domestic club – perhaps hoping someday he’ll catch a scout’s fancy and play in a top European side.

One of the many players perhaps yet to be noticed is Ola Brynhildsen – which we’ll take a closer look at exclusively in this scout report. Plying his trade at boyhood club Stabaek, Brynhildsen has become a regular starter this season having already made his senior debut two years prior. The pacey winger has shown that he’s got the ability and the potential to play in the Norwegian top-flight and perhaps an even higher level of football. However, he still seems to be quite a raw talent.

Now without further ado, let us get to know more about the skilful winger in this tactical analysis.

Physical

Brynhildsen has a decent height of 1.79 m (5’10) and a lean body build. He’s not a very strong player overall. However, he’s not too weak either as a lot of times he can be seen holding off a defender while controlling a ball and muscling off smaller, weaker players when challenging for the ball. Although, of course, most of the times, he can be outmuscled by a defender rather easily in a duel.

He doesn’t win most of his challenges both in the air or on the ground either. This is only a slight disadvantage though it doesn’t really affect him a lot in his games. He’s still quite active defensively though, raking up a decent average of 4.3 defensive challenges per game, although succeeding at a small percentage of 37% of them.

However, despite his apparent lack of strength, Brynhildsen compensates it with his outstanding pace. Possessing an impressive amount of explosive power, Brynhildsen could reach his top speed very quickly when starting his runs and he’s even faster when he’s already in his stride.

Along with his blistering pace, Brynhildsen is also very agile and has very good body balance and coordination. Linking this up with his acceleration and top speed, Brynhildsen has the perfect tools to beat defenders in the short-medium distance.

However, long-distance sprints could be quite a burden for the player himself. Although he’s able to leave the defenders trailing by some distance after getting past them, his lack of stamina is a bit of a problem. Although at certain times, despite slowing down significantly, Brynhildsen still has time to make his next attacking action before the defenders catch up – most of the time, the quality or the final product is somewhat disappointing. The quality of his strikes and his passes seems to decrease quite significantly after sprinting for some distance which renders him out of breath. This means despite being able to free himself of the opposing defenders, a lot of times he can’t really deliver/strike a ball with power/accuracy. Take a look at the picture above for example.

Ola Brynhildsen 2019 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Brynhildsen managed to bring the ball forward after dribbling for some distance. He sees the striker on the far side and tried to pass it to him. However, as he ran out of breath, he was unable to deliver the perfect pass and subsequently gave the ball away to the opposing team.

But going back to his short-distance capability, due to his quick burst of acceleration, impressive agility and body balance, as well as, excellent dribbling skills – Brynhildsen is a really difficult man to shrug off the ball (despite his lack of strength) and certainly a difficult player to deal with in 1v1 situations. This is why he’s often the subject of the opposing team’s aggression which renders him usually drawing a lot of fouls in one game.

His rather unimpressive stamina is also apparent in his apparent lack of work rate, especially defensively. However, we’ll talk about this later in the tactics section of this analysis.

Technical

There are some technical aspects that we’re going to look at in this tactical analysis, but first, let’s take a closer look at his ball control.

Brynhildsen seems to have pretty good control of the ball. Most of the time he can be seen receiving the ball and controlling it flawlessly. However, at other times (mostly when he’s tired), he seems to have a rather poor first touch, which usually gets him in trouble, especially when playing against teams who tend to press aggressively.

However, he seems to be a great dribbler of the ball. Again, due to his agility and balance, the quick-footed wide man is really hard to push off the ball, often frustrating the opposing defender who’d then resort to fouling him in order to stop his rampaging run. Brynhildsen always shows that he has the attacking flair and creativity every time he touches the ball and brings it forward. He may not possess the Neymar-like flashiness, but he does have some tricks up his sleeve that he often pulls off in a game.

Despite not being a very good passer of the ball, Brynhildsen’s amazing dribbling proficiency often helps his team progress forward. When receiving the ball or recovering possession deep in his own half, Brynhildsen mostly prefers to start the attack and counter-attacks by dribbling the ball forward rather than passing it.

Ola Brynhildsen 2019 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Brynhildsen bringing the ball forward from deep.

As we can see in the picture above, Brynhildsen received the ball in his own half and immediately turned to dribble the ball forward before passing it onto the path of striker Franck Boli. Despite actually having other options around him, Brynhildsen most often would just choose to start his vertical dribbling. Statistically, Brynhildsen averaged around 5.6 dribbles per game with a success rate of 48%. This is an improvement than his previous season’s dribbling stats which recorded him making 3.5 dribbles per game with a slightly smaller success rate of 45%. So, statistically, Brynhildsen is a bit more prolific in terms of dribbling this season. He seems to be much more confident in taking on a defender, especially in a 1v1 situation.

However, his success rate is still rather low despite seemingly improved a little bit this season. Brynhildsen needs to be more effective in dribbling, perhaps he should try not to force himself to dribble past multiple players – which he can be seen doing numerous times this season – and try to pass the ball towards a free teammate.

But although his progressive dribbling does help a lot in his team’s bid to launch an attack, his distribution seems to be quite an important attribute that he desperately needs to improve sooner rather than later. He may be able to open up spaces with his silky dribbling skills, but the apparent lack of vision in his passing, as well as rather poor judgment and awareness, is rather worrying for a player who’s often actively involved in a build-up. Not just that, his passes often simply lack accuracy and weight.

Ola Brynhildsen 2019 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Brynhildsen’s lack of vision and fairly poor decision making is apparent in this picture as he decided to pass the ball inwards/into the box – unaware that his teammate is moving outwards/underlapping.

As we can see in the picture above, Brynhildsen did manage to dribble past several players as he cut inside with the ball. His teammate, Nicholas Mickelson made an outward/underlapping run behind a defender – perhaps in a bid to act as a decoy to open up space for Brynhildsen so that he could bring the ball inside the box with the defender out of position.

Of course, in this position, the winger could also pass the ball through towards Mickelson – however, with his teammate making an underlapping run, he also needed to pass the ball outwards so that his teammate could receive the ball on his path out wide. In this picture though, Brynhildsen, instead, delivered an inward through pass which slid behind Mickelson and was met by none of his teammates. This was intercepted and won back by the opposing team.

Statistically, he’s not that impressive either. With an average of 18 passes per game, Brynhildsen managed to only successfully deliver 66% of them. Only 4.3 of his total passes are directed forward and only 50.6% of his forward passes are successful. This speaks a lot about his lack of ability to progress the ball with his passes. Long passing isn’t his best attribute either – averaging only 1.4 long passes per game with merely 25% accuracy. The Stabaek wide man is not exactly a prolific and pinpoint crosser either. So far, he has delivered a total of eight crosses – that is 0.4 crosses per game and he didn’t manage to complete every single one of them. This is not an improvement than his last season’s feat with him making the same amount of crosses per game (0.4) while completing only a terrible 7% of his crosses.

Of course, his unimpressive crossing stats are affected by his tendency to cut inside and take a shot instead.

Talking about his shooting ability though, Brynhildsen’s actually not that bad. He seems to have a pretty decent technique when striking the ball, albeit a lot of times he can be seen making poor contact with the ball when attempting a shot or forcing to take a shot while out of balance, which results in the ball flying nowhere near the goal. Again, delving into his stats, Brynhildsen’s much more prolific when it comes to shooting rather than delivering the ball. He has made an average of 1.6 shots per game with 25% accuracy so far this season. To add to that, Brynhildsen currently has two goals to his name despite only collecting a total of 0.9 xG value which shows that he’s actually quite effective in front of goal. Despite usually trying to cut inside before taking a shot, Brynhildsen rarely attempts a shot outside the box. Most of his shots are around the edge but still inside the box.

The Stabaek winger is quite comfortable in using both feet. He is mostly right-footed but doesn’t seem to have any problems when controlling and dribbling the ball with either foot. He seems to be able to pass or take a shot with either foot as well, but his left is visibly slightly lacking in power and accuracy compared to his right. However, with his tendency to not avoid the use of his weaker foot and his apparent comfort with using either foot – Brynhildsen is able to play on either flank very well.

Brynhildsen cutting inside and shaping up to have a crack with his left.

Tactical

Stabaek usually play with a 4-2-3-1 or occasionally 4-4-2 system. They defend with a mid-high block and they press aggressively high up the pitch. His team often build their play up from the back, but they try to move forward rather quickly, albeit using mostly short-medium distance passes.

Last season, Brynhildsen was deployed mostly as a right-winger. This season though, he is mostly played on the left-wing. However, he has the exact same tendencies when playing on either flank – he sits narrower and cuts inside a lot. To get a slight peek of his positioning and movements in a match, let’s take a look at these heatmaps below.

Ola Brynhildsen 2019 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Brynhildsen’s heatmap in the 2018 Eliteserien.
Ola Brynhildsen 2019 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Brynhildsen’s heatmap in the 2019 Eliteserien.

Now the above picture shows that he’s not quite an active player overall despite seemingly covering a fairly decent amount of ground in every game. He seems to sit high and narrow when the team are building up from the back rather than dropping deep to link up the play.

He seems to be very focused mainly on his offensive tasks and doesn’t really offer a lot defensively like for example, Bodo/Glimt’s Hakon Evjen. Although, of course, he’s often seen dropping deep as well to help his team defend.

If you look at the pictures used above closely, you can also see that he has covered areas around the right/left-hand side around the edge inside the box which further proves his tendency to drive inside the box with the ball before taking further offensive action rather than taking an action from out wide. The picture below is further proof that Brynhildsen loves to cut inside from both sides of the flank into the box.

Ola Brynhildsen 2019 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Brynhildsen dribbling and bringing the ball into the box and taking a shot on goal.

As mentioned earlier, Brynhildsen’s weakness is his distribution which is largely affected by his poor vision and awareness. This makes Brynhildsen rather unsuitable for a playmaking role. But despite that, there are certain occasions where the player is deployed as an attacking midfielder or a central midfielder – especially when playing for the Norwegian youth national team (Norway U20). However, at Stabaek, Brynhildsen mostly plays as a winger and occasionally as a striker, partnering with Boli upfront.

Playing Brynhildsen as a striker makes more sense rather than as a central/attacking midfielder as it allows him to explore more of his attacking capabilities whilst also slightly limiting his defensive responsibility.

What makes Brynhildsen extremely dangerous upfront are his offensive positioning and off the ball movements. Let’s take a look at the picture below.

Ola Brynhildsen 2019 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Brynhildsen staying behind the opposing defender and playing off his shoulder.

From the picture, we can see that Brynhildsen’s quite intelligent in his movements. At first, he started out wide, trying to stretch the defence. However, upon seeing that the ball-playing defender managed to get past the pressure and bring the ball forward, Brynhildsen immediately moved closer to the defender and stayed behind him. This way, the opposing defender didn’t know where he was and was late to react when the ball was already played and Brynhildsen was already free of any marker and on his way towards the box.

He’s got great reading and understanding of the game in attack. He knows where the ball is going to be, he knows where his teammate’s going to move, and before the opposing defender is aware, he’s already one step ahead of him.

Ola Brynhildsen 2019 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Brynhildsen playing off the shoulder of the last defender.

This picture also shows Brynhildsen’s tendency to move inside the box in anticipation of the cross from the far side. He arrived rather late and then made his run behind the opposing defender who seemed completely oblivious of his movements. With his impressive pace, Brynhildsen managed to get to the ball first to connect with the cross and converted the chance into a goal. The defender in the yellow circle didn’t even know that he was there in the first place and was far too slow to react. This is why he’s still quite a dangerous man inside the box despite his rather poor aerial ability.

Ola Brynhildsen 2019 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Brynhildsen’s combination with Haland in the Norway U20 clash against Uruguay U20.

Now, this picture shows his reading of the situation and movements in the attacking phase. In this game, Brynhildsen played as a left-winger in a 3-4-3 system where he sits high and narrow. When the ball is on the far side of the pitch, Brynhildsen sits even higher and narrower, allowing Hakon Evjen (bottom of the picture) to exploit the space on the left flank. Erling Braut Haland pinned ball-near centre-back while moving wider, opening up a gap between the two centre-backs. Brynhildsen spotted this and quickly started his run while Haland then stalled for a moment and then made a curved run, back to his designated centre-forward position – effectively losing his marker and rendering the centre-back out of position. The playmaker released a lofted through pass towards Brynhildsen, however, the winger’s first touch wasn’t great and they lost the ball again in the final third.

Once again, this shows the winger’s excellent spatial awareness and reading of the situation.

Conclusion

Brynhildsen is a pacey winger with fairly good overall technicality. He loves to get into advanced areas and drive inside the box to score a goal – however, he needs to massively improve his distribution.

He’s not a very strong player overall, however, he’s not too weak either. The combination of his agility, balance, acceleration, ball control, and dribbling skills make it really difficult for the opposing defenders to win the ball from him – especially in 1v1 attacking situations. However, still, his most impressive physical attribute is his pace both in short-range and over medium to long-range distances.

Brynhildsen is quite a tactically astute player and this tactical analysis shows that he’s an amazing forward due to his excellent offensive positioning and off the ball movements. However, his apparent lack of distribution ability and vision shows that he may not be perfectly suitable for a playmaking role.

There are still lots of room and time for improvements for Brynhildsen. If he can strengthen the weak spots in his game, top clubs in Europe may come calling for him soon.


Total Football Analysis Magazine #11: July 2019 - tactical analysis tactics
Artwork by @chapulana

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