IFK NORRKÖPING – MATCH REPORT VS AIK FOTBALL 26/10/20

IFK Norrköping were held to a 2-2 draw by AIK in a game where they will feel that they should have come away with all three points. Norrköping dominated the game with 60% possession but found themselves behind at half-time after conceding a soft goal from a corner scored by Henok Goitam.

They came out firing in the second-half and scored twice within the first 5 minutes, with goals from Jonathan Levi and Henrik Castegren turning the game on its head and a chance to go ahead missed shortly afterwards with a shot off the post. They were very unlucky not to add to their lead after hitting the woodwork again but AIK stayed in the game and were awarded a penalty in the 87th minute which was converted by veteran midfielder Sebastian Larsson to rescue a point.

Norrköping lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, with Eric Smith anchoring the midfield and 17-year-old Ísak Bergmann Jóhannesson given a free role as the most advanced of the midfield three, against AIK’s well organised 4-4-2 approach.

Ratings

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Ísak Bergmann Jóhannesson

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Icelandic
  • Age: 17
  • Date of birth: 23/03/2003
  • Current Club: IFK Norrköping
  • Career: ÍA Akranes, IFK Norrköping
  • Position: Centre Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Left

Bergmann Jóhannesson played as the most advanced of the midfield three and did well to link the midfield and the attack, occupying space all over the pitch with his constant off-the-ball movement between the lines to make himself available to receive a pass. He played with great confidence considering his age and already takes on a lot of responsibility in this team, coming short to collect the ball from teammates in deep positions and being vocal and communicative throughout.

He impressed with his ability to perform the simple tasks well, recognising the value of functional and efficient passing that retains possession and moves the ball forward without trying to do too much or rely on individual skill. He preferred to progress the ball with quick short passing interchanges and intelligent combination play rather than dribbling past opponents. He did show good ball control and press resistance on a few occasions when receiving the ball under pressure and turning into space before firing accurate passes into the feet of the front three and immediately looking to make himself available for a return pass.

His movement in the attacking third was sharp and intelligent, showing a good reading of the game to find pockets of space in and around the box which gave good options to teammates in possession. These runs were hard to track and caused problems for the AIK defence, particularly on one occasion where he drifted into space in the box and received a pass before testing the goalkeeper with a left-footed shot.

His work rate out of possession was another big positive in this game and he pressed aggressively throughout, often providing the first line of defence as the furthest player forward and giving the AIK defence very little time on the ball by hounding the first-touch to try and force a mistake. In terms of physicality he is fairly tall at 5’11 but is still developing muscular strength and has quite a slight frame so was muscled off the ball a few times by more physical players.

Rating – A1

Bergmann Jóhannesson is already showing himself to be a player with excellent technical and mental qualities to his game. He has clearly established himself as a key player for Norrköping and, as he continues to impress, a move to a top five league doesn’t look like it will be far off.

Sead Hakšabanovic

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Montenegrin/Swedish
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 04/05/1999
  • Current Club: IFK Norrköping
  • Career: Halmstads BK, West Ham United, Málaga CF (L), IFK Norrköping
  • Position: Left Winger
  • Secondary position: Attacking Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Hakšabanovic played on the left wing and had a key role to play in this game, assisting both goals and being a threat throughout with his pace and direct dribbling ability when cutting inside onto his stronger right foot. The opening goal came as a result of this positive approach, driving at the defence and getting into the box before cutting the ball back for the striker to finish. His second assist came from a corner and was the result of consistently dangerous delivery from wide positions that saw crosses whipped in with pace and accuracy that were very difficult to defend against.

He liked to hug the touchline on the wide left and receive the ball to feet before using this ability to run at the defence and take people on. He was confident and direct throughout, showcasing good close control and agility in 1v1 situations to get into dangerous positions that either resulted in a cross or a shot at goal. His decision-making was good in this game and he created a number of shooting opportunities for his teammates as well as testing the goalkeeper himself on a couple of occasions with shots hit with power from outside the box.

However, whilst looking for the ball to be played into his feet favoured his ball-carrying ability, it meant that he was slightly stagnant out of possession and he was not able to consistently influence the game, instead drifting in and out slightly. He also looked quite disinterested in the defensive side of the game and offered little support to the full-back, a part of his game which I feel he may need to work on if he is to move to a club at a higher level.

Rating – A2

Hakšabanovic is the type of player that springs into life with the ball at his feet and can single-handedly change a game. In his role as the chief attacking outlet for Norrköping he is playing in a team that is centred around getting him the ball, but he also needs to ensure he is not limiting himself with his style of play and will need to work harder out of possession in a team where he may not be the main man.

Filip Dagerstål

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Swedish
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 01/02/1997
  • Current Club: IFK Norrköping
  • Career: IFK Norrköping, IF Sylvia (L)
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred foot: Right

Dagerstål performed well at centre-back in this game, impressing both defensively and in possession. He is a tall, strong defender, standing at 6’2, and he used his physicality well to dominate aerial duels and ensure he was first to the ball to intercept passes played into the feet of the AIK front two.

Towards the start of the game he was slightly too eager in trying to defend on the front foot and got sucked in too high up the pitch on a couple of occasions which left gaps in the defence. However, he soon recognised and addressed this, showing good positional discipline to give himself an extra yard when engaging in ground duels and picking his moments well to step in and win possession.

He was assured and progressive on the ball as Norrköping looked to play out from the back, often stepping into midfield and looking to play lofted passes into the feet of the front three. This was obviously a deliberate game plan as they looked to bypass the congested midfield area and Dagerstål’s passing accuracy was important in allowing this to happen. He performed his defensive tasks calmly and showed a good presence of mind to look for a teammate even when inside his own box rather than being content to clear the ball upfield.

Rating – A2

Dagerstål put in a dominant defensive performance in this game and was unlucky to be part of a defence that conceded twice from dead-ball situations. He was given a lot of time on the ball by the AIK front two so I wasn’t able to see how he copes under pressure but he looks to be a mature and accomplished centre-back and a player who could perform well at a higher level.

Eric Smith

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Swedish
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 08/01/1997
  • Current Club: IFK Norrköping (on loan from KAA Gent)
  • Career: Halmstads BK, IFK Norrköping, KAA Gent, Tromsø IL (L), IFK Norrköping (L)
  • Position: Defensive Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Smith anchored the midfield and had a mixed game, impressing in possession with his passing ability and vision from deep but struggling with the defensive responsibilities of the role when out of possession. His marking was not good enough for the opening goal as he was caught ball-watching from a corner, allowing his opponent to run off him too easily and meet the cross unopposed.

Despite his 6’3 height he needed to assert himself more in the midfield as he was giving opponents too much time and allowing them to carry the ball forward with little resistance. He struggled to keep up with the pace of the attacking players and, although he did make a few well-timed standing tackles, he was not strong enough when he did engage in a physical duel for possession.

However, his performance on the ball was much better and he was able to set the tempo and play some lovely long passes out to the wide players from inside his own half in an almost quarterback-like role. He showed quick feet and moved well with the ball, showing good technical ability despite his size and very rarely giving possession away despite attempting some difficult passes into congested areas of the pitch.

Rating – B1

Smith looks a solid player at this level on the balance of things but in order to take his game to the next level and establish himself at a club such as Genk he will need to improve the defensive side. He has the physical attributes to do so and, if he can add some aggression and urgency when out of possession, he could be a valuable addition to his parent club.

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