Ružomberok had to start their 2019/20 Fortuna Liga campaign roughly. Losing some key players like Peter Gal-Andrezly, Dominik Kružliak, Erik Daniel, Ismar Tandir, and Zinedin Mustedanagić (returning to parent club) can be seen affecting them in a rather negative way.
Lately, Ruža managed to find their way back into the top-end of the Fortuna Liga table thanks to the brilliant performances of Dalibor Takáč and co. Surprisingly though, it seems to be the recent emergence of a young talent that seems to bring positive influence in the team in a way.
18-year-old Tomáš Bobček only got a chance to start a game and play a substantial amount of minutes for the senior side of Ružomberok in their 11th fixture where they drew 1-1 at home against league leaders Slovan Bratislava. Bobček scored the all-important goal in that game and now he looked set to cement his place in the team and potentially leapfrogging Štefan Gerec in the pecking order.
Bobček is 1.85m (6’1″) tall and possesses a lean body build with not particularly developed upper and lower muscles. He’s not necessarily weak though and he seems naturally powerful as he often shows that he can hold off opponents (with smaller, similar, or slightly larger stature) and shield the ball before playing it. However, understandably, against much larger, bulkier opponents, Bobček can be overwhelmed and muscled off the ball.
The 18-year-old striker seems to be quite agile for his height and possesses very good body balance and coordination. He’s quick on the turn and he’d often use this to beat defenders both when he’s on and off the ball. Despite his lack of strength, his very good balance and coordination means that he’s still quite difficult to move off the ball, especially when he’s already into his stride.
Bobček is also a fairly quick player. He’s fairly sharp over short distance due to his quick burst of acceleration. He seems to be able to maintain a decent speed over a long distance. Bobček can often be seen making these long-distance sprints in a game, this will be explained later in this tactical analysis. The fact that there’s no significant drop in his performance especially later in the game, means that this player has great endurance.
Bobček is also good at winning aerial duels. His good aerial ability, though mostly due to his physical prowess (height, vertical reach, balance) – is also affected by his good positioning, timing, and anticipation. Bobček is not only able to win aerial duels, but also able to direct the ball well with his head. He’s also very active in engaging in aerial duels. Statistically, Bobček averages around seven aerial duels per game, winning around 36% of them.
On the ball skills
Bobček’s touch and control of the ball, as well as dribbling skills, are undoubtedly impressive. At times, he even seems like Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, just shrugging off defenders and driving into the box by himself.
The picture above is an example. Bobček drove past two defenders before delivering a crucial assist with his pass from the half-space inside the box. Sometimes, his team are just unable to pass their way into the box to create chances and his dribbling ability can prove to be quite beneficial.
Statistically, Bobček averages around 3.7 dribbling attempts per game with a pretty decent success rate of 45%.
With him being played mainly in a supporting role in a two-striker partnership, passing and ball-retention ability in advanced areas can be important as well.
The picture above shows the ability to fashion goalscoring chances for his teammates. In this situation, Bobček received the ball just around the edge of the box. He received the ball with his right foot on the half-turn, quickly turning the other way and then slotting a through pass into space inside the box.
The young striker shows not only that he has good vision, but also good decision making and tactical intelligence as well as good technique in this situation by the way he receives the ball, turns around with the ball, spotting the run of his teammate, and picking the spot where he wants to pass the ball to.
Bobček creates an average of 1.1 chances per game while Lewandowski, as a comparison, creates an average of 1.3 chances per game. Bobček also averages around 1.8 key passes per game while Lewandowski averages around 2.4 key passes per game. Not far different in the chance-creating department although the latter is still understandably superior.
In terms of passing in general, statistically, Bobček only registers around 18 passes per game with a 68% accuracy. It’s actually pretty decent for a player that plays mostly in a tighter space and usually given less time in more advanced areas as well as the fact that Bobček is a player that mostly focuses on his movements. Lewandowski, for comparison, averages around 24 passes per game with a 76% accuracy.
The young Slovakian prospect also shows an impressive ability to use one foot just as well as the other. This can be seen as he has no tendency to strike the ball with one foot only and he’s able to control and dribble well with either foot. His ambidexterity helps him massively and makes him twice as dangerous and flexible with the ball as he can turn and bring the ball towards any direction he likes.
Bobček will often try to receive the ball with his back foot and with open body shape to get a wider vision of the pitch. This allows him to quickly react and execute his next move upon receiving the ball. Some other times he’d also receive the ball with his back facing the opposing goal, however, as he’s quick on the turn, he’d often be able to quickly move the ball to one side with his touch and then quickly turning and accelerating away, leaving his opponent trailing.
With this neat ball control, ambidexterity, and agility (as mentioned previously in this scout report), Bobček is quite proficient in playing in tight spaces and under intense pressure. At certain times, when he’s isolated and under pressure, he’d improvise and try to dribble to exit pressure as in the picture below.
The 18-year-old striker also shows good ability to retain the ball using his technique and physicality. Statistics-wise, Bobček averages a very impressive amount of 16 offensive duels, winning 36% of them. Erling Braut Håland, for comparison, averages around 12 offensive duels per game albeit with a higher winning rate (45%). Lewandowski also has a similar average of 12 offensive duels, however, he has a slightly lower winning rate compared to Håland (42%).
Though mainly playing seemingly in a supporting role upfront, rather than being the main man to produce goals, Bobček can be very dangerous in front of goal when given the chance as well. He’s accurate with his attempts, whether it be with his head or with either foot.
He shows all the proper attributes that could make him a top-class striker one day. Aside from his splendid ball control, he is also a talented striker of the ball.
Statistically though, Bobček doesn’t attempt as many shots as, for example, Lewandowski. He averages only around two shots per game albeit with a rather impressive 50% accuracy. Lewandowski, meanwhile, averages at least four shots per game with the same 50% accuracy.
Bobček is quite an opportunistic player in front of goal. He excels at beating offside traps, losing his markers, and finding spaces inside the box due to his excellent positioning, awareness, reading of the game, quick reactions, and off-the-ball movements. He is always in the right place at the right time at the end of his teammate’s passes.
Positioning and movements, style of play, and his role in Ružomberok’s tactics
Bobček usually plays as a part of a front-two in Ružomberok’s 3-5-2 system. He’s usually partnered with Martin Regáli. Here’s how the formation usually looks like.
In possession, Ružomberok tends to progress from the flank but look to break through centrally. They’d try to stretch the defence by having both wing-backs sit high and wide. They’d often look to switch play either by long balls or by playing short and moving it quickly through the middle.
Not only moving up and down, but he’d also often move from one side to another.
Bobček will actively roam around the middle third and final third as he looks to link up play while Regáli often looks to stay around the central areas. He’d often sit in the half-space, often acting as a wall, playing one-two touch passes to help the wide players break free in the flank.
Some other times, Bobček will try to drag his marker out of position by moving wide or dropping deep. By moving wide, Bobček does not only disrupt the opposition defensive structure but also help create an overload in that particular area.
Bobček seems to possess good game intelligence and tactical understanding as well as spatial awareness. This is displayed by his excellent ability at exploiting defenders’ blindside.
In this situation, Bobček can be seen staying in behind a ball-watching defender while silently making a run into space inside the box.
When the ball was delivered into the box, Bobček quickly came from behind the defender who was unaware of his presence, timed his jump well and won the header. His header was hard and on target but the keeper was quick to react and turn it away from his goal.
Bobček is also often seen making double runs before receiving a ball. Sometimes, he’d go further from the ball and then immediately turning to make a run to the near-post (like in the example prior to this picture). Some other times, he ‘d do the opposite – run near the ball and then turning to attack the far-post. He’d often do this to shake off defenders as these double runs can leave defenders out of balance. Not only that, but he can also create space for himself as well with these movements.
In the picture above, for example, Bobček made a diagonal run from the far side as if to attack the near post. He then immediately stopped while the defender kept moving deeper into the box. This created a gap between the two players and now the striker had some space and time if the ball’s given to him.
When transitioning from defence to attack, Bobček tends to act as the link from back to front. With the two wing-backs dropping deep, usually, Ružomberok will defend in a 5-3-1-1 (or a 5-4-1) system with Regáli alone up front and not get so much involved in defence but rather focusing on being the counter target. Bobček, meanwhile, will often go deep and help the defence. When the ball’s won, Bobček will quickly make himself available as an option to quickly progress the ball.
In the situation above, Bobček received the ball and drove into the final third before combining with Regáli to score his first goal for the senior side.
Out of possession, Ružomberok tend to defend with a medium-high block and will try to press the opposition backline when they’re trying to play from the back. Usually, while Regáli goes forward to press, Bobček will mark the opposition playmaker, thus preventing a pass to the midfield in the centre of the pitch but this is quite flexible though as Bobček can often be seen pressing the backline as well while Regáli is marking the playmaker.
This would force the opposition to move the ball wide. Upon playing the ball wide, Ružomberok will immediately overload that area and press the opposition, usually leaving the ball-carrier isolated with no nearby options. He (the opposition) will have to loft the ball forward or laterally, improvise and dribble to escape pressure, or pass the ball backwards where Ružomberok will then push higher up and give them more pressure while they’re on the back foot.
When the opposition is deep inside Ružomberok’s half, their tactics are to defend deep and swarm the box. As mentioned before in this tactical analysis, while Regáli tends to not get so much involved in defence in his own half, Bobček is extremely active. He always aims to disturb the ball-carrier. He’d even often go the extra mile and drop deep in his own half in order to help his team defend as in the picture below.
When losing the ball in the opposition half Ružomberok will also press, if not to win the ball back at least they can slow them down. Bobček is particularly effective in this as he’s not only quick and energetic but also very aggressive and determined. Bobček proves to be very good at winning balls in the opposition half and helping his team restart an attack. He averages around 3.1 ball recoveries in opponent’s half which is very impressive. He also averages around two interceptions per game which shows his good positioning and reading of the game.
This, I think, is what makes him quite similar to Håland in a way albeit the former not being the physical monstrosity that the latter is. The work rate, the aggression and bravery, the level of commitment that both players show in every game, the contributions that both players make both offensively and defensively, and their mentality are what make them special, aside from their tactical intelligence and technical proficiency.
Håland is known to be very active in defence. The large-framed Norwegian wonderkid averages around 4.16 defensive duels this season so far with a success rate of 48%. Bobček, however, took his defensive contributions to the next level by averaging around 7.52 defensive duels with a success rate of 53%. Even Lewandowski, who’s known to be a hard-working striker who’s very aggressive in pressing only averages around 1.9 defensive duels per game with a success rate of 46%.
Tackling may also be seen as an irrelevant skill for a striker but surely not in a modern game anymore. Bobček is a pretty good tackler as well, he’s aggressive but can be conservative at times. He also likes to come from behind and dispossess an unsuspecting opponent. Bobček’s averaging at least two tackles per game with a success rate of 50%.
Bobček has been extremely impressive so far this season. He can potentially have his breakout campaign in this season.
A player that shows excellent technique on the ball, intelligence in his movements, and plays with his heart. A complete striker in every way possible, Bobček doesn’t have any significant weakness except for the fact that he’s inexperienced and some of his physical attributes are yet to reach their peak.
Alongside fellow talented 2001-born Slovakian prospect David Strelec, Bobček can certainly become an integral part of Slovakia upfront. He’s a bit of an unknown at the moment, but surely it’s about time a big club will spot him.
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