Marco Bizot is having a fantastic season with AZ Alkmaar who currently sit second in the league. This scout report will look at both AZ Alkmaar’s tactics and analysis of Bizot to determine exactly why that is. The 28-year-old goalkeeper joined AZ in 2017. Bizot’s time at the club has been okay, but this season seems to have changed this season. Before we dive into the scout report of Bizot, let’s look at the tactical analysis this season for AZ.
AZ Alkmaar have had a great season so far. They are currently second in the table, looking to maintain their good form. Currently, AZ’s expected points are 53.6, which is marginally worse than their current 56. The xPTS still has them in second position even with their slightly lower xPTS. xG scored doesn’t seem to give us the answer. AZ’s xG of 53.2 is okay in comparison to their actual goals scored of 54. So AZ are performing pretty much to their xPTS and xGD. What seems to be the fuss? The answer seems to be Bizot.
Bizot has had a monumental impact for AZ this term. In terms of xGA, AZ are outperforming the expected 21.3 with 17 GA. However, Bizot himself has only conceded 11 goals, having only completed 23 games (0.47 per game against the expected 0.85 per game). This stat isn’t completely exclusive to the performance of Bizot as it includes missed and blocked shots. However, the difference does show a clear change in the expected outcome and performance. To understand this better, let’s take a closer look at some goalkeeping statistics for Bizot.
Marco Bizot’s stats
Firstly, Bizot has kept 17 clean sheets this season in 23 appearances.
He currently has a clean sheet percentage of 74% which ranks first this season. This clean sheet percentage is truly remarkable, and while he isn’t due all of the credit, he is definitely due some. As mentioned before, Bizot has conceded 11 goals this season. This is the best in the league this year, showing the team’s defensive prowess. This isn’t exclusive to goalkeeper performance, so let’s look deeper.
Graph showing European goalkeepers clean sheet percentage and goals against/90 (must have played a minimum of 1000 minutes in the 2019/2020 campaign). Source: fbref.com
Next, Bizot has a saves per goal ratio of 5.18, ranking first this season. Looking at this stat is helpful as Bizot has had fewer shots to handle than the rest of the league. Bizot has only faced 2.91 shots per 90 minutes this season. This ranks second-fewest in the league (behind Onana’s 2.88 shots faced per 90) so looking at that is much more helpful than stats like the number of saves. This season, Bizot has a save percentage of 85.1% which means he ranks first in the league. Save percentage can be improved by instead comparing a goalkeepers saves/goals ratio. Bizot has the highest saves/goals ratio in Europe at 5.18. Because he faces fewer shots and some shots on target are blocked, saves/goals is useful when trying to gain an understanding of a goalkeeper’s shot-stopping ability, something that Bizot is proving to be very good at.
Graph showing European goalkeepers saves/goals ratio and PSxGoT (post-shot xG on target) (must have played 1000 minutes in the 19/20 campaign). Source: fbref.com
When on the pitch, Bizot seems to make a big difference. This season, AZ have collected 2.43 points per game when Bizot is in goal. In contrast, when not playing the 90 minutes, they have lost both games. As well as points, this is also seen with goals. However, this is an extremely small sample size.
Many teams operate different types of build-up sequences depending on the managers preferred style. This starts at the goalkeeper. In terms of distribution, Bizot has a tendency to play short, doing so 61.5% of the time. This pass tendency shows he likes to play the ball and look for a passing orientated build up. This also applies to goal kicks. Bizot has been instructed to take short goal kicks, opting to 62% of the time. This ranks 3rd in the Europa League this year. This shows a clear build-up philosophy for AZ. Also, the average length of AZ’s goal kicks is short. The average is 35.1 ranking 2nd only to Manchester United.
There are not many better things for a defender for the goalkeeper to come out a claim a cross. By coming off the line and claiming a cross, the goalkeeper completely eradicates the chance of xG being created. That’s not to mention the opportunity to attack the opposition whilst they transition. Bizot has claimed five crosses this season at a rate of 14.3%. This high claim percentage is very aggressive and ranks third highest in the Europa League this season.
Radar showing Bizot (blue) and Allison (orange) during the 2019/2020 season. Stats show save percentage, post-shot xG, Shots on target faced/90, High Claims/90, Outside Penalty Area actions/90, Saves/Goals, Clean Sheet % and Goals Against/90.
Looking at the radar, we can see that Bizot is performing extremely well with Saves / Goals. Not only that, but the result is that he collects many clean sheets and concedes very few goals. We can also see in comparison to Allison that he is marginally better in most areas. It should be noted that the Eredivisie is of a lower standard than the Premier League, but Bizot is still performing to a remarkably high standard.
Radar showing Bizot’s (blue) and Allison’s (orange) distribution in the 2019/2020 season. Stats include short pass tendency, short GK tendency, passes per 90, long pass accuracy and throwing tendency.
In terms of distribution, it’s clear to see that Bizot is comfortable playing short goal kicks. In comparison to Allison, we can see that Bizot’s long pass accuracy needs to be worked on. This does tie in with the manager’s preference, and looking at the stats, Bizot should opt to play to his strengths and utilise his short passing more.
Radar showing Bizot’s (blue) and Allison’s (orange) goalkeeping style in the 2019/2020 season. Stats show short-passing tendency, throwing tendency, tendency to claim a cross and amount of actions outside the penalty area.
We can see from the radar that Bizot is more of an aggressive goalkeeper when choosing whether to leave his line for crosses. Due to Bizot’s long passing accuracy, maybe he could improve by either throwing more often or opting to pass shorter.
Radar showing traditional goalkeeping for Bizot (blue) and Allison (orange) in the 2019/2020 season. Stats show save percentage, saves/goals, saves/90, PSxG difference, Corners conceded/90 and high claim %.
It’s clear to see that Bizot is performing at the traditional goalkeeping tasks in a similar style to Allison. Both goalkeepers experience a relatively quiet time in the games, but both perform to a high standard of shot-stopping when called upon. Bizot seems to be more commanding when it comes to high claims and corners, but again the league disparity goes a long way to explaining that.
Sweeper keeper radar showing Bizot (blue) and Allison’s 2019/2020 season. Stats include actions outside of the area/90, average distance of actions, passes/90, short pass tendency and throwing tendency.
The sweeper-keeper radar is understandably more flattering for Allison. Bizot seems to be well balanced, even if he is performing to a lower standard than Allison.
Marco Bizot in action
One-on-ones are a very difficult situation for goalkeepers. Goalkeepers must do everything in their power to cut down angles. It is also a situation that the goalkeeper is usually 100% responsible for the defending team. This puts more pressure on the goalkeeper to make the correct decision. There are lots of different ways to approach this for a goalkeeper. This first decision is to either come off the line or stay relatively close to the line. This may change dependant on the situation, although you are more likely to see Manuel Neuer come charging off his line than David De Gea.
In this scenario, Bizot could go closer to the ball to cut down the area of the goal available to the striker. If he does this, it does open up the opportunity for the attacker to chip or lob the keeper. Another drawback could be that the attacker could pass the ball, especially because of the three-versus-two overload in the centre. Bizot makes a great choice in staying close to his line, keeps himself relatively low and makes a block save.
A block save is a save made by a goalkeeper, usually in a one-on-one situation and quite often when the attacker is shooting from an angle. The method is to have the goalkeeper’s arms stretched out to the side and usually have one knee bent down to prevent the ball from going in between the goalkeeper’s legs. The height of the arms is dependant on the goalkeeper. The goalkeeper will also bend his knees, keeping a low centre-of-gravity in case of a shot to either side.
In this picture, Bizot has his left knee lowered towards the ground. As mentioned, this is to stop the ball from passing underneath him. Bizot would still attempt to use his hands, although the knee provides a great contingency. He gave himself a great opportunity, staying close to his line and letting his defenders apply pressure to the attacker. Bizot also keeps his hands relatively low with bent knees. In this instance, he makes the save and pushes it out for a corner.
Low arms in a one-on-one
Different goalkeepers approach one-on-ones differently. One way that they can be different is the height of their arms. Historically goalkeepers are told to make themselves look big, even more so ever since Peter Schmeichel’s star jump was taken from handball into football. In a block save, however, goalkeepers change the height of their hands, usually dependant of their height.
A taller goalkeeper struggles to get down low to shots more than a shorter goalkeeper. A shorter goalkeeper struggles to have the same surface area as a taller goalkeeper. To counteract the weakness, a taller goalkeeper will outstretch his legs more than his shorter counterpart, allowing for a lower centre-of-gravity to allow him to reach down to the ground faster.
In this instance, we can see Bizot initially sticking to his usual close-to-the-line start. He gives his defenders time to come back into position and deal with the threat. Once they are in position, he closes down the attacker, limiting the attacker’s options.
One thing Bizot does well is that he times exactly when the striker takes a touch of the ball. Once the attacker has knocked the ball forwards, Bizot pounces forwards, cutting down not only shooting angles but also passing lanes. This is only possible due to his low arms, something he does because of his tall 6’4” frame. His low arms will allow him to quickly jump at the ball and proactively stop the attack.
A split save is a type of saving made from a close-range shot. This save is made using the foot or leg, with the goalkeeper adopting a movement in which it looks like he is performing the splits. This has been made more popular in recent years and is very effective as it gets a body part to the ball as quickly as possible.
Here, the defender is well placed, and we can see Bizot staying inside his six-yard box. The striker hits the ball with pure venom, not allowing much time for Bizot to react. Instinctively, Bizot pushes out his left foot, stopping the shot impressively.
The curved C/J run
The curved run is a relatively aggressive way to approach a one-on-one way that has divided opinion in the past. The concept is that the goalkeeper curves his run in such a way that presents the attacker more of the near post to aim at. The theory behind this is that the goalkeeper will force the attacker into a decision that he has been told not to take in the past. By offering the near post as a more viable option, the goalkeeper covers the back post more effectively and can more confidently predict the possibility of a near-post shot. With this prediction, the goalkeeper can use his footwork to prepare for the near-post shot.
The main downside to this is that there is a portion of the goal that is open. Even worse, the near post is more difficult to save from as the ball has travelled a shorter distance and therefore the goalkeeper has less time to react. There is also less opportunity to dive ‘backwards’ and increase that time given.
In the top half of this picture, you can see Bizot covering the near side of his goal, leaving all of the shooting opportunity towards the back post. Bizot waits for the attacker to first touch the ball, to eliminate the chance of a shot. When Bizot does run, his run is not just out of his goal but also to his left (right in the picture). This creates the C/J trajectory. When the attacker takes his next touch, Bizot is covering the far corners with both his left foot and low left hand. This means that the attacker is left with limited options, and eventually, Bizot claims the ball.
Claiming high balls
Goalkeepers usually have a preference when it comes to how aggressive they are with high balls and crosses. This is can be determined by the height of the player, but tactics can also play a part. The benefit of coming to claim a cross is to completely nullify the opposition attack. By claiming the ball, the goalkeeper has completed his one true job; keeping the ball out.
In contrast, some goalkeepers prefer to stay on their line more than others. This allows the goalkeeper to set his starting position more effectively. This should also give the goalkeeper the best chance of saving the ball. The reason for this is that the goalkeeper has more time to react to any shot that comes. It also means that the goalkeeper can predict the trajectory of the ball and cut out more angles of the goal to increase the difficulty for the attacker.
The statistics before shown that Bizot was quite an aggressive claimer of high balls. This could be down to the fact of his 1.94m height. Or maybe his eccentric personality. What we can see in this picture though, as seen with a lot of the one on one opportunities is that Bizot starts close to his line. Bizot has time to assess the situation and is probably most concerned with the overload of players at the back post. After recognising this, Bizot steps up to the trajectory of the ball and battles with the attacker to claim the ball.
Goalkeeper distribution has become an integral part of modern goalkeeper recruitment/training. To add to this, the Eredivisie is synonymous with passing orientated football. Couple that with the modern game’s intense pressing, it is pretty much a requirement that Bizot can play comfortably with his feet. The stats showed that Bizot’s long passing accuracy is well below average. These stats, however, are from an extremely low sample size. Here’s one example of Bizot’s range of passing.
In the top half of the picture, we can see Bizot on the ball. Ajax have committed men forward to apply some pressure onto the AZ backline. We can see that the Ajax attacking midfielder has cut out the option to play into the midfield pivot. The Ajax striker has also pressed in such a way to cut out the passing lane to the AZ left central defender. The obvious short pass would be to the right central defender, although this would create an immense pressure, especially considered how capable Ajax are at pressing. Instead, Bizot plays a long pass to Stengs, turning a high-pressure situation into a counter-attacking opportunity.
Goalkeepers have an unforgiving job. There isn’t another place on the pitch that comes with as much criticism when a mistake is made. That’s probably because as a goalkeeper, a mistake usually leads to a goal conceded. Whether it is a lapse of concentration or reading a situation incorrectly, every goalkeeper is susceptible to making mistakes. It comes with the territory. Bizot is not immune to this.
It’s quite clear to see in the top half of this picture that in this scenario, the attacker is running wide toward the corner flag. What happens next is that Bizot comes extremely high off his line, outside of his box. Bizot then clatters the striker, getting nowhere near close to the ball. As well as the misjudgement, Bizot’s technique for dispossessing the attacker is very unconventional; it looks very side-on. Needless to say, Bizot received a red card for his poor judgement.
Because of the one on one analysis before, this seems very uncharacteristic for Bizot. His usual technique of staying on the line, closing down the shooting lanes and giving himself the best chance of a reaction save seems to have gone out of the window. This is especially frustrating as the trajectory of the attackers run is extremely wide and a reassessment of the situation after the attacker gets to the ball would be a good choice in hindsight. It would also be a safe bet to guess that the defenders in the picture would be better placed to deal with the threat.
Bizot is having a fantastic season with AZ. Not only are the team performing to a high standard but this scout report has shown that he goes a long way as to the reason why the team is performing so well. Both the team’s and goalkeeper’s performance are clearly illustrated by the relevant goals-against statistics Bizot can be eccentric at times and in a high-pressing team like AZ it does come into question at times. It’s easy to see that Bizot is great at preventing the ball from going into the net by more modern, unconventional ways. Training with players such as Frenkie de Jong and Matthias de Ligt who ply their trade in La Liga and Serie A with world class players will only help Bizot when he’s with the National team.