How Bodø/Glimt is becoming the best team in Scandinavia
Bodø/Glimt shocked everyone by finishing second in the 2019 Eliteserien. There were some suggestions this year of a natural regression but so far, they have rubbished those ideas. Glimt have totally stormed the league by starting with a 100% record, winning all 9/9 fixtures and netting an outrageous 35 goals in the process. The most northerly side in the Norwegian top-flight have already dished out two 6-1 hammerings and a 5-0. They lead the league in goals scored, expected goals, expected goals against, ball possession, total passes and points – to name but just a few categories. Glimt have become this absolute machine-like team, so why are they so good?
There is almost a poetic simplicity to the Bodø/Glimt system. One of the main factors contributing towards their success in the last 18 months has been an ability to keep a strong and consistent XI in which everyone knows their exact role. The manager has created a tactic which doesn’t change too much and doesn’t over-complicate things. Players are scouted, recruited or coached from within to fill each role and position. Glimt effectively use a 4-3-3 formation. They usually employ a left wing-back with quite an attacking mindset, whilst right-back is more conventional. Whether it be Amor Layouni last season and followed on by Jens Petter Hauge, both have been operating as what can be classed as inside forwards, cutting in from the left-wing and almost given a free role offensively. The central midfield trio always includes two strong runners in addition to a holding man.
A massive part of Bodø/Glimt’s game is high pressing and a high line of engagement. They are incredibly dangerous on the counter-attack but now also adapted their game in 2020 to be more possession orientated. In fact, so far, they have dominated the ball with an average of 65% possession which is massively above anyone else in the league. Bodø/Glimt have a very fit, young and energetic squad who seem in great condition. They are always willing to chase down the ball and the pressure they exert on opponents is sometimes immense. Only Strømsgodset have allowed opponents a lower PPDA per game so far in Eliteserien 2020. There’s no doubt that this high press system has yielded rewards, forced mistakes and created chances. Average position of the players in some games has been so high that it sometimes feels like they are totally camped in the opposition half, totally dominating proceedings and dictating the play.
High-class playing squad
Last season there was a suggestion that Bodø/Glimt wildly overachieved considering the squad they had at their disposal. This was perhaps a little harsh considering they had the likes of Håkon Evjen in their ranks. But maybe to a degree, it was true that on paper they lacked quality compared to some of the other big teams. That appears to have changed in 2020 and they actually now have a bunch of really talented players here. On the left-hand side of defense, Fredrik André Bjørkan operates as an attacking wingback who is given a license to roam forward a lot and try lots of different things. He’s already chipped in with 3 assists and has a crossing accuracy rating of nearly 45%. Shielding the defense in a deeper midfield role is Patrick Berg who missed nearly half of last season through injury. It has been a massive boost to have him fully fit and he is a great dictator in the middle of the park.
In Jens Petter Hauge on the left-hand side of attack, they have an outstanding player who is possibly the best talent in the entire league. There’s no doubt that Bodø/Glimt lacked a true #9 type top-quality striker in 2019 but they rectified that by signing Kasper Junker. He’s currently joint top of the Eliteserien scoring charts with 8 goals in 624 mins. He has netted more than double his xG of 3.56 and has been a fantastic multiple threat upfront. Junker can best be described as a complete forward who can be a fox in the box if needed, but also highly efficient in the air as a target man. Now that Glimt have a proper ‘finisher’ upfront who can convert the numerous chances they create then it has helped propel their game to a new level.
Finally, we must talk about the sheer class of Philip Zinckernagel, who has, quite simply been sensational. Operating on the right-hand side of attack, the Dane is basically a combination of winger, inside forward or even striker sometimes and has caused absolute havoc for the opposition. Zinckernagel has the highest expected goals (6.0) in the league and also the highest expected assists (3.78). In addition, he has the most shots (38), & the second-best shots on target ratio (47.37%). There are so many strings to his bow that he also has the second most crosses and accurate crosses (38 & 51.16%) No player has had more dribbles (74) than him in the Eliteserien 2020 and he has nearly double the amount of key passes (16) than the next player on the list. Quite simply, he’s been an absolute beast and totally dominated on the field. In a weird sort of way Zinckernagel almost feels underrated because the likes of Jens Petter Hauge and Kasper Junker perhaps take more of the limelight.
Great coaching staff
In Kjetil Knudsen Bodø/Glimt have possibly the best manager in the Eliteserien right now. Last season most people tipped them to go down but he masterminded a title challenge against all the odds, only just falling short in the last few hurdles. He and his backroom staff have definitely coached up a number of the players to a higher level. The whole club appears to be run extremely well and everyone inside the organisation singing from the same hymn sheet. The board have been decisive with their vision and sporting director Aasmund Bjørkan, who is the father of their excellent left-back Fredrik André Bjørkan heads up an exceptional scouting department. Clearly, a great deal of work has been out into youth coaching at the club because a number of homegrown prospects have come through the system recently. Håkon Evjen was immense in 2019 and sold to Dutch club AZ Alkmaar. Jens Petter Hauge and Fredrik André Bjørkan are both one of their own.
When the 2020/21 UEFA competitions resume, Norway will be represented by a trio of clubs the best they’ve had in a number of years. Bodø/Glimt and Molde are going to battle it out for the gold medal this season and both are exceptional sides. Make no mistake about it though, Glimt are up there on total merit now and they have the weapons to compete. If they continue this sort of progress, then we could see a new powerhouse of Norwegian football develop.