Vincent Janssen at Royal Antwerp: How the Dutch striker has played his way back into World Cup contention – scout report
During his sole season at AZ Alkmaar at the beginning of his senior career, Vincent Janssen was seen as one of the next big prospects in Dutch football. In his sole season in Alkmaar, the Dutch striker netted 27 times in 34 games, which earned him his big money move the following summer to Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of around £17 million. Janssen became AZ’s record player sale as a result, but his time in England was far from successful. A move to Mexico followed, with Janssen now landing in Belgium with Royal Antwerp where he has had a great start to the season.
His form for Antwerp has also earned him a recall to the Dutch national team, with former Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal calling the striker up for the recent UEFA Nations League matches against Wales and Belgium. This tactical analysis and scout report will analyse Janssen’s strengths, and show why he has a legitimate shot of making the Dutch squad for the World Cup in Qatar next month.
The heat map above shows the positions that Vincent Janssen tends to find himself in while playing for Antwerp. Under former Bayern Munich player Mark van Bommel, Antwerp have tended to line up in a 4-2-3-1, with Janssen playing up top as the sole striker. However, as we can see, Janssen tends to be involved in all areas of the attacking half of the pitch for the Belgian side, showing that he does more than just score goals for his side.
This is able to illustrate how Janssen is not just a penalty box striker, rather, he will move off the ball and find spaces where he can gather possession. Though he does not have any assists for Antwerp this season, he is still very much of an all around striker, as this scout report will show.
Link up play
As we mentioned earlier, Vincent Janssen is not just a penalty box striker. The heat map from this season was also able to illustrate this, with the Dutch striker very good at dropping deep into midfield and linking up play. So far this season, Janssen is averaging 23.27 passes per 90 minutes, with an impressive 80.2% success rate.
As the pass map above shows, the majority of the Dutchman’s successful passes have occurred in the middle third of the pitch, showing his tendency to drop deeper into midfield to get more involved in the build up play. As this section progresses, we will look at some examples of Janssen’s build up play in action, showing just what the Dutch striker is capable of when dropping deeper into midfield.
The image above shows an example of Vincent Janssen dropping deeper into midfield to be involved in the build up phase of play. The ball is played to the Dutch striker from the back line, after he dropped into midfield to become a passing option. He is able to hold the ball up well, allowing both the wide attacking midfielder and central attacking midfielder to run beyond him.
Janssen is then able to play a perfectly weighted pass into the path of the CAM, allowing him to run onto it. The ball is then played out wide, with Janssen making a run forward centrally to once again become a passing option, this time in the final third.
It is not just hold up play in these deeper positions that Janssen excels at. He also has the ability to switch the point of attack under pressure from these deeper positions, which an example of is shown above. Off a throw-in, the ball finds its way to Janssen, with three opposition players looking to close him down and dispossess him. The Dutch striker is able to control the ball with his chest before sending a first touch pass to the opposite side of the field, changing the point of attack and allowing Antwerp to escape the pressure.
Above shows another example of Janssen’s hold up and link play put together to create a decent goal scoring chance for Antwerp. In the phase of play above, the ball is played long towards the Dutch striker, with him turning to face his back to goal to try and control the ball. The pass towards Janssen takes a weird bounce, which forces the striker to play a first touch pass on the half volley back towards the midfielder, which he is able to get off. The midfielder is then able to play a ball in behind the defense for the wide attacker to run onto, with his ensuing shot forcing the goalkeeper into a save.
This chance came as a result of Vincent Janssen’s hold up play and link play, which has developed immensely in the last few seasons. So much so, that it has become one of his biggest strengths, and is surely one of the reasons he has gotten another look in with the Dutch national team in recent weeks.
Finishing ability and shot selection
So far this season, Janssen has shown that his exploits during his time with AZ Alkmaar all those years ago was no fluke, with the Dutch striker scoring 7 goals in 10 appearances so far this season for Royal Antwerp. It is not just his finishing ability in front of goal where Janssen has excelled this season, but rather, his good shot selection as well. The data viz below shows all of the striker’s goals this season, including his xG.
As we can see by the graphic, Janssen is just slightly outperforming his expected goals, with the majority of his shots coming from good areas inside the box. This is also able to illustrate the fact that Janssen has been a clinical finisher so far this season, with his xG and actual goals close, showing that he is scoring the chances that he should be. With that being said, we will now take a closer look at Janssen’s goal scoring ability, as well as shot selection, in the following few examples.
So far this season, the Dutch striker has rediscovered his scoring form from his 2015/16 season with AZ Alkmaar, with Janssen being highly clinical in front of goal.
In the phase of play above against Union Saint-Gilloise, Janssen scores a goal that is able to illustrate his physicality as well as finishing ability. Preceding this goal, Janssen received possession on the half-turn from just inside the final third. After receiving the ball, the Dutch striker was able to turn and use a burst of acceleration to try and get past the defender, before using his strength and physicality to leave the defender to the ground. Janssen was then able to get a shot off as he was losing his balance, with the shot ending up being perfectly placed in the far bottom corner.
This next example includes two different images, the first one showing Janssen’s intelligent movement to make space for him at the back post, and then the shot selection and finish. In this phase of play above, the ball is out on the wing with the wide attacking player in possession and driving towards the box.
This image is able to show a glimpse of the striker’s intelligent movement, with it looking like he is driving centrally towards the penalty spot before quickly diverting his path to run towards the back post. As a result, he is able to drift away from his marker and towards the back post.
The image above shows the second part of Janssen’s goal. We can see how after his intelligent movement from towards the penalty spot to the back post, the amount of space that the Dutch striker has found himself in. The ensuing cross from the wide player makes it across goal, leading to a tap-in for Janssen at the back post.
This goal came as a result of Vincent Janssen’s smart penalty box movement, which allowed him to find the space at the back post. This example is also able to showcase the striker’s finishing ability and confidence in front of goal, something that has improved dramatically since his time in England and then his spell in Mexico. Though many people see this as an easy chance for a forward to put into the back of the net, a striker that is low on confidence may have missed the target.
The final example for this section once again shows the quality that Janssen has shown with his finishing ability, with this example showing the Dutchman scoring a goal out of almost nothing. After a corner kick for Antwerp, the ball is half cleared by the Gent defense, and after the ball bouncing around a bit in and around the penalty box, it eventually finds its way back to Janssen inside the 6-yard box. While being pulled down, and with his back away from goal, he is able to get his foot up in the air and send the ball into the top corner of the net, with the goalkeeper rooted to the spot.
As this section has gone over, Vincent Janssen has re-found his goal scoring form so far this season with Royal Antwerp. While there is no guarantee that this form will be permanent, Antwerp have a real shot at winning the Belgian Pro League title this season if the Dutch striker can continue putting the ball into the back of the net at this pace.
As this scout report and tactical analysis has shown, Vincent Janssen has begun to return to his best since moving to Royal Antwerp this past summer. The Dutch striker has been a perfect fit into the tactics and style of play of Mark van Bommel, and looks like he has a great shot to make it into Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands squad for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar in one months’ time.