FC Midtjylland roped in then 2019/20 Danish Superliga’s top scorer Ronnie Schwartz on a two-and-half-year contract at deadline day in January 2020. It raised a few eyebrows since Schwartz was only made Silkeborg’s captain not long ago. But many saw it coming since Schwartz was the only shining star in a below-average Silkeborg team facing relegation.
Schwartz has tallied a total of 14 goals this season, with 12 of them scored at his time with Silkeborg. He has a total of 2 goals since his winter move to FC Midtjylland from 4 appearances (2 starts). His move to Midtjylland has seen him drop to 2nd in goal-scoring charts as he is adjusting to his new club’s environment. But he’ll be key to Midtjylland’s quest for a 3rd title when the season resumes after COVID-19 suspension.
In this scout report, we’ll be going through a full data and tactical analysis on Schwartz. We’ll be looking at what he brings on to the plate for FC Midtjylland’s tactics with his experience and abilities. Please enjoy the analysis.
Across the season Schwartz has been deployed in 2 different formations. He has been used as a lone striker in the 4-2-3-1 formation, as well as part of a duo in a 4-4-2. Schwartz’s horizontal positioning is not something that remains constant. He likes to drift onto the wings and sometimes cut inside using his preferred right foot. The yellow marks in his heat map at the left half-space shows that he likes to position himself there. Also evident from his heat maps is that he likes to drop deep. This is a quality that is pretty much found in many modern-day strikers, as they tend to take part in a team’s build-up.
His passing sonar map tells the locations from where he has made more than 10% of his passes. Among them is the left-wing (sonar 3) and the left half-space (sonar 4) discussed above. His ability to drop deep and build play is shown by the passing sonars 1 and 2.
High volume shot taker
Schwartz is someone who is not hesitant to take his chance at the goal, a hallmark for any good striker. He ranks joint 6th in the league for most shots taken and has an average shot per 90 of 2.18. Also, his average xG per shot is 0.21, showing most of his shots are high-quality ones. His total xG is 10.21 which is less than his total goal tally of 14. Outperforming his xG by a difference of 3.79 speaks volumes about his excellent finishing capabilities.
His shot map shows that most of his shots are taken inside the box. Out of his 50 (28 on target), shots attempted, 27 of them are inside the box with 16 on target. As said before, he is not someone who is afraid to take a shot from distance. He has recorded 21 (12 on target,1 goal) shots outside the penalty box which constitutes 42% of his total. He has attempted 11 shots with his weaker foot with 2 of them resulting in a goal. His importance as a goal threat is identified by the fact that his 12 goals for Silkeborg make up 41% of their goals scored in the league this season.
Great spatial awareness
One of Schwartz’s most important attributes is his spatial awareness. This instinct of his enables him to occupy key positions and highly dangerous areas inside the box. In the following image, we can see Schwartz running into the box along with his teammate. As soon as he approaches the box, he slows down, unlike the rest of his teammates.
Due to his slowdown, he is able to occupy a huge amount of space in between the opponent’s defensive lines. If a cross is played to him in such space then there is a huge chance of a goal to follow. Eventually, he scores a goal in this example.
In another example below, we can again see him running along with defenders. Then suddenly he shifts his pace and direction to escape from the markers. This makes the defenders lose track of him. After which, he is able to again occupy huge space and score.
Even during a set-piece or a direct throw-in, his instincts to occupy spaces and evade his markers have proven to be successful. In the image below, during a direct throw-in, we can see how he is left unmarked. The whole opponent defence is up to marking other Silkeborg players on the near side. Hence, they leave Schwartz unmarked on the far-side and he is able to receive the deflected ball to score.
Fox in the box
Schwartz can be termed as “fox in the box”, due to his poaching abilities. As evident in the shot map, most of his goals are from a close distance. In the first image below, the left-back delivers a cross into the box. Schwartz (circled in the first image) quickly moves into the position indicated by the arrow to score a goal (second image).
Another instance where a striker can exhibit his poaching qualities is to immediately attempt a shot from a goalkeeper’s rebound. In the example below, when his teammate shoots from distance, Schwartz makes a well-timed run. It would present him an opportunity to score in case the ball rebounds of the keeper. The goalkeeper then spills the ball onto his path and he goes on to score a goal (2nd image).
Good passing abilitiy
Schwartz also possesses good on the ball quality, which helps his team during possession. Despite having a low xA per 90 of 0.05, he has assisted an average of 0.48 shots per game. Along with this, he has also played 0.61 through passes per 90. He also makes 0.96 deliveries into the box on average. The image below tells us that a few of his long balls have been shot assists. 4 of those shot assists have been to S.Mahouli of Silkeborg, with a total xG of 0.32. At the start of the season, they both played as the 2 centre-forwards in Silkeborg’s 4-4-2 formation. Although he was unlucky to not have registered an assist from Mahouli’s shots, he was able to combine well with him.
In the image below we can see an example of him dropping to receive the ball and play it behind the opponent’s defence to assist a teammate. We can again see his tendency to find space in between lines and drop there to receive the pass. At the time when he receives it, his teammate makes a well-timed run. Schwartz quickly identifies his run and plays a ball to him (black arrow in 2nd image). His teammate carries the ball, as shown by the red arrow in 2nd image, and takes a shot to score.
In the image below, we can see him dropping deep to collect the ball and thread it through to his teammate. In the first image we can see him collect the ball. This forces the right-back (circled in 2nd image) to focus on Schwartz and lose the Winger in the process. This allows the winger to make a run in behind the defence as Schwartz plays a ball to him.
Schwartz also has a good long ball in him. In the image below we can see him drop in the half-space. Immediately he identifies the amount of space for the right-back (2nd image) and launches a long ball.
Dribbling and ball progression
In the ball progression chart, we can see a lot of long balls that have helped his team in going forward. Schwartz has made 1.4 progressive passes per 90 along with 0.57 progressive runs. More than 54% of his progressive passes seems to have an average distance of 30+ meters. Hence we can concur that long balls are one of his biggest strengths. His dribbling ability also seems to be good for someone of his height. He has attempted 1.35 dribble/90 and completion rate of 0.65 per 90.
Analyzing his dribbles in the final third tells us that most of his dribbles have led to a shot on goal. His dribbles, in the final third, themselves have contributed to an xG of 1.64. Hence we can say that he is good in 1v1 situations when he beats the defenders to shoot.
An important thing to be noted here is that most of his season stats are from his time with Silkeborg. Since Silkeborg is the bottom side in the league, they are pretty much inferior to all other teams. Like every other inferior team in any league in the world, they do not dominate games or possession. They are one of the few teams to average less than 50% of possession (49.4). This gives their players very few time on the ball. This holds good even for Schwartz. Even while playing for an inferior team, he seems to be recording good stats and has been a vital cog in Silkeborg’s play.
Schwartz records 1.27 recoveries for every 90 minutes and an average final third recovery of 0.57 per 90. Most of his recoveries across the pitch have been under counter-pressing situations. He has an average of 0.65 counter-pressing recoveries per 90. His recoveries in the final third have yielded an xG of 0.88, with one of them resulting in a goal.
Although those are not very high numbers, a thing to be noted is that Silkeborg as a team is not very good in terms of recovering the ball. They have the highest PPDA value (passes per defensive actions) of all teams in the league (16.70). This implies they have the least pressing intensity in the league due to their conservative approach.
The image above shows the areas where Silkeborg has recovered the ball this season (darker regions indicate more recoveries). Most of their recoveries have come in their defensive third (left to right is the direction of attack). While their midfield and attacking third are less intense. This proves that they more or less play a low block without possession.
Areas of improvement
Although his low numbers are pretty much down to the team’s tactics, the defensive side of him can be one of the areas where the 30-year-old can improve. In the above example, Schwartz (red circled in 1st image) looks to press the opponent from behind. But the opponent fakes him by moving the ball to the wing and hence Schwartz has lost his duel. A slide tackle from behind could have stopped the opponent from retaining possession. In the example below, he again looks to press the opponent ball carrier. But fails and the opponent makes a simple pass to his teammate.
Another important area where he can improve is winning aerial duels. Despite being over 180cm in height, he has recorded very few successful aerial duels. He has won an average of 1.22 aerial duels per 90 which is just 7.1% of the total duels he has contested. In the below image, we can see the total number aerial duels he has contested to that of the number of duels he has won in each game in which he has featured. In most of the games, he failed to register even one successful duel. Though modern-day number-9s are not judged by this attribute, someone of his physicality should be doing better.
Schwartz has also been judged offside 1.18 times per 90 minutes (third-most in the league). This might be due to his teammates’ delayed reaction in spotting his run nevertheless he can improve in this area too.
Comparison with Sory Kaba
When we have to rate a player’s ability we certainly have to make some individualistic comparisons. Let’s compare him with FC Midtjylland’s 25-year-old centre-forward, Sory Kaba. We don’t consider Lasse Vibe since he has played very few minutes (132) this season. In the chart below we can look at how they compare in the attacking department. Schwartz has a higher value for xG/shot (0.21), whereas Kaba has just 0.14. This shows Schwartz takes more high-quality shots than Kaba. Schwartz’s frequency of scoring goals is much higher than Kaba’s. His average goals per 90 stand at 0.61 whereas Kaba has an average of 0.27 goals/90. He has significantly outperformed, 14 goals from 10.35 xG. While Kaba has underperformed his xG, 4 goals from 7.21 xG. Although Kaba edges Schwartz out in other statistics like assists, shots attempted and touch in the box, we should note that Schwartz played his better part of the season in a weaker team. Despite Kaba taking more shots and touches, he has scored much fewer goals than Schwartz. This coupled with the fact that Schwartz takes high-quality shots demonstrates Schwartz is the better finisher.
While comparing on and off-the-ball abilities in the chart below, we can see Kaba has been doing much better. Kaba, though, has been playing for a better team. He has a higher dribbles/90 than Schwartz, but Schwartz’s dribbles have comparatively yielded many valuable shots. His xG/dribble (0.09) is higher than that of Kaba’s (0.04). But Kaba also makes more progressive passes and runs/90, 2.24 and 0.75, respectively. On the defensive front, he has been better than Schwartz averaging 0.88 recoveries/90 to that of Schwartz’s 0.57. As discussed already, winning aerial duels is one area where Schwartz ought to improve. In this area, Kaba has been the clear winner by winning 41% of his duels to that of Schwartz’s 7%. Also, Kaba has attempted more duels than Schwartz.
FC Midtjylland’s decision to buy Schwartz while still having the likes of Kaba and Vibe is obviously because of superior finishing capability and shrewdness that his teammates lack. Though Kaba is pretty much young and is entering his peak, the presence of someone like Schwartz will certainly help Kaba. Although Midtjylland occupied the top spot in the league since the start, they lacked a proven goalscorer. They have accounted for 41 goals (5th best in the league). Their goal-scoring woes haunted them when they exited the Europa League at a very early stage. Drafting someone like Schwartz will surely improve their attacking output in the future.
Presently aged 30, Schwartz is entering the final phase of his peak years. Although he can no longer be in transfer plans of major European teams like Manchester United or Chelsea, he can certainly help Midtjylland in the championship playoffs and potential European adventure. His experience and talent could certainly extend Midtjylland’s dominance at the domestic level for the next few years. He could also be great signing for some top MLS teams like LA Galaxy, who have been looking to fill the Zlatan Ibrahimovic void.