This fixture marked the much awaited start of Eliteserien 2020, after Covid-19 postponed the the season with almost three months. Viking and Bodø/Glimt were two of last seasons most exciting teams to follow from a tactical perspective and expectations were high going into this 6-goal thriller.

In this tactical analysis, we will assess how Bodø/Glimt’s tactics overcame those of Viking FK.

Lineups

Both Viking and Bodø/Glimt have been well renowned for playing a 4-3-3-formation. Viking had been experimenting with both a 4-4-2 and a diamond shaped 4-4-2 in pre-season, trying to find room for the two forwards Tommy Høiland and new singing Veton Berisha in the side. In this fixture they lined up in their normal 4-3-3. The versatile Fredrik Torsteinbø filled in for an injured Sondre Bjørshol at right back. The winter-sales of Kristian Thorstvedt and Zlatko Tripic gave Johnny Furdal and Even Østensen a chance to impress. Record-signing Veton Berisha started as the centre forward.

Bodø/Glimt also approached this fixture in a 4-4-3-formation. From last season’s regular starting lineup, goalkeeper Ricardo Friedrich went to MKE Ankaragücü, breakout sensation Håkon Evjen left for Champions League hopefuls, AZ Alkmaar and Erlend Dahl Reitan moved back to his parent club Rosenborg. In goal, last season’s backup, Nikita Khaikin, was handed his chance, while winter-acquisitions Alfons Sampsted and Sondre Brunstad Fet filled the holes left by Reitan and Evjen. Kasper Junker, who was prolific for Stabæk last season, started as their front man.

Eliteserien 2020: Viking vs Bodø/Glimt – tactical analysis
Lineups, courtesy of Wyscout.

Bodø/Glimt established themselves as one of the best attacking teams in Eliteserien last season, averaging over 2,1 goals per game. To cope with the dangerous left side of Bjørkan and Hauge, Viking lined up in a skew 4-3-3 formation, as anticipated by head coach Kjetil Knutsen ahead of this fixture. For Viking this meant Bytyqi were given more defensive responsibility than Østensen, who is more of a natural striker playing out of position in this formation.

Eliteserien 2020: Viking vs Bodø/Glimt – tactical analysis
Viking FK average positions, courtesy of SofaScore.

Bodø/Glimt’s build-up 

Bodø/Glimt played in a 2-3-2-3 when in possession. The full-backs surged forward, while central midfielders Saltnes and Brunstad Fet were given license to roam higher up the pitch. Patrick Berg functioned as the link-up player between midfield and defence. This is displayed in Bodø/Glimt’s passmap below.

Eliteserien 2020: Viking vs Bodø/Glimt – tactical analysis
Bodø/Glimt passmap, courtesy of Wyscout.

The away side was quite versatile – but prefered quite clearly to built up short. When playing from the back, they built up with the back four and Berg. With two ball-playing centrebacks in Moe and Lode, and with technical and quick fullbacks in Bjørkan and Sampsted, they would play at higher risk when trying to progress. They would often trust one of the back four to carry the ball effectively past the oppontent’s first line of defence in order to progress. The two more attack-minded central midfielders, Fet and Saltnes, would roam between Viking’s defence and midfield.

In the first half Bodø/Glimt struggled to progress when building short from the back. This lead to them circulating the ball in the back four, looking for progressive options. This issue was illustrated well in numbers, having 68% of the possession in the first half and only 0.28 attacks per minute.

Eliteserien 2020: Viking vs Bodø/Glimt – tactical analysis
A key aspect of Bodø/Glimt’s attacking setup, their wide central midfielders consistently move into the pockets between the opponent’s CB’s.

Bodø/Glimt in possession

When in possession in the opponent’s half they held on to the formula which provided them with much success last season. This meant they moved up two of their central midfielders, Fet and Saltnes, in the space between Viking’s centrebacks and fullbacks. With wingers Zinckernagel and Hauge staying wide, their formation pivoted into a 2-3-5 when in possession offensively. Last season Saltnes and Evjen (now replaced by Fet) racked up an impressive 20 goals between them from central midfield roles. Viking struggled to adapt to Bodø/Glimt’s offensive tactics, illustrated by the equalising 1-1 goal in the first half.

The goal came through a trademark Bodø/Glimt attack. Viking’s back four were stretched wide by wingers Zinckernagel and Hauge while Saltnes and Fet stepped forward into the pockets as central options, at line with striker Junker. With opposite movements Junker forced Hove to step forward from his centreback position while Saltnes made the run into the area left empty by the Viking defence. With a flick-pass Junker found the timed run of Saltnes one-on-one with Austbø.

Eliteserien 2020: Viking vs Bodø/Glimt – tactical analysis
Bodø/Glimt’s 1-1 equalizer came through brilliant opposite movements from Saltnes and Junker.

Bodø/Glimt’s defensive set-up

Defensively, we could see Midtjylland changing to their formation, defending compactly in a 4-5-1. They did this short distances between the lines, narrowness in midfield, and a high line.

Bodø/Glimt’s midfield and defence were very disciplined. They always tried to maintain horizontal and vertical compactness. But they didn’t just sit deep and absorb the pressure facing one of the best home teams from last season. The most near-ball player would be the one to step out and close down the ball-carrier. When out of possession Bodø/Glimt opted for a high pressing approach. Aiming to recover the ball in favorable areas of the pitch, they only allowed Viking an average of 5.3 passes per defensive action in the first half.

By going straight at the man with the ball, he could cover any passing lane to the opponent behind him, while forcing the former to quickly make up his mind. If Bodø/Glimt had allowed Viking too much time on the ball, the latter would have moved the former’s shape around easily and taken total control of the match.

Eliteserien 2020: Viking vs Bodø/Glimt – tactical analysis
Bodø/Glimt’s defencive shape.

Viking outscoring their xG

Viking went into half time with a 2-1 lead, in what was an even half of football. By analyzing the two goals scored by Viking in this fixture, stats clearly illustrates that they got given more than they perhaps deserved from the chances created.

The opening goal came through a rehearsed set-play routine, of which Bodø/Glimt gaffer Kjetil Knutsen claimed they were aware of. Leaving his marker behind with a bowed run, Fredrik Torsteinbø attacked the free space at the edge of the 6-yard box. With a strong header of the ball he found the bottom right corner behind Khaikin. This opening goal had a 0.11 ratio on the xG-metric, meaning it was very much unlikely to score from.

Eliteserien 2020: Viking vs Bodø/Glimt – tactical analysis
Fredrik Torsteinbø’s opener for Viking came through a rehearsed set-play.

Viking’s second and final goal of this fixture also came through an x-factor moment. With his back against the goal, Even Østensen flicked a cross from Pereira with his heel. He managed to get it to float past Khaikin from a near impossible angle. This goal had a value of 0.25 xG, meaning once again that it was a chance not likely to end up in a goal. From the average of 0.69 xG in the first half, Viking managed to score two goals, illustrating both their efficiency and their struggle to create clear-cut chances in this fixture.

Eliteserien 2020: Viking vs Bodø/Glimt – tactical analysis
Viking’s 2-1 goal, heel-flicked in the far corner from Even Østensen.

Glimt back to their best 

Bodø/Glimt came into the second half trailing by two goals to one, and without having gotten into their normal attacking pattern for most parts of the first half. In the second half this changed dramatically, due to factors I will assess in this segment of the analysis.

In the second half it became evident that Kjetil Knutsen did some adjustment to his side at half time. We saw a Bodø/Glimt back to their very best after the interval. The most notable change in tactics, “Glimt” moved their play further up the pitch and added more sting to their vertical approach. As a consequence they had less possession and more attacks per minute in the last 45.

Eliteserien 2020: Viking vs Bodø/Glimt – tactical analysis
Bodø/Glimt started exploiting the wide offensive channels in the second half, this attack leading to the 2-2 equalizer.

As illustrated in the photo above, in the build-up to the 2-2 goal, Bodø/Glimt started to exploit the wide offensive channels. This allowed Zinckernagel and Hauge to use their physical and technical qualities in isolated one-on-one situations. With Viking’s FB-pairing possessing btter offensive than defencive attributes, both Bodø/Glimt’s second and third goal of the game came from this attacking pattern.

Eliteserien 2020: Viking vs Bodø/Glimt – tactical analysis
Dynamic movement and overloading the ball-side meant the ball carrier always had several passing options.

Dynamic movement around the ball carrier and a higher tempo in their passing game help them breaking Viking’s lines. Combined with overloading the ball-side this gave them a consistent variety of options when in possession. It also helped them to tire out the opponent chasing the ball.

Viking’s second half struggles

Viking went into the second period en route for the three points, but as the xG values from the first half illustrated, they weren’t good value for this lead. In the second half the Stavanger-side struggled defensively as well as going forward.

Where they defended with compactness in a 4-5-1 in the first half. In the second their forward- and midfield chain got disconnected when pressing the opponent. As a result Viking didn’t manage to lock Bodø/Glimt to one side and their pressing got half-high. Whilst struggling to gain possession, they ended up running in between Bodø/Glimt’s lines, effectively running themselves tired. Berntsen made several changes and switched to a 4-4-2 formation after 72 minutes. This change did not make much of a difference, tactically and performance-wise.

Eliteserien 2020: Viking vs Bodø/Glimt – tactical analysis
Viking struggled to chain their midfield and forwards when pressing in the second half. This making it easy for Bodø/Glimt to play through the lines.

Highlighted in the photo, the chain between attack and midfield in pressing moments disconnected in the second half. As a consequence the gap between the first line of defence and the midfield increased. This making it a walk in the park for Bodø/Glimt to play out and progress.

Conclusion

An even game of football in the first 45, the second half turned into almost a no-contest match for Bodø/Glimt. Outclassing Viking both tactically and in their one-on-one battles all over the pitch, the guests started of this campaign in stylish fashion. The side from northern Norway will be an exciting one to follow when the Europa League-qualifiers starts off this summer.

Viking will be disappointed with this display, aiming to improve on last seasons finish. They too will be in the bracket for Europa League qualification this season. Viking have fond memories of continental football, having famously beaten Premier League giants, Chelsea, in the 02-03 Uefa Cup.

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