Hammarby IF travelled to face Sirius in the first league fixture between the two this season. Hammarby have started the season excellently, winning their first four games prior to this match. Sirius had been more inconsistent in the lead up to the tie with 2 wins, a draw and a loss.
In the end, Hammarby ran out comfortable winners in a 0-3 victory with several players having very good games. Nahir Besara scored the second and had his goals were bookended by teenager Williot Swedberg. Sirius struggled to get much of a foothold in the game, managing just one shot on target in the 90 minutes. This wasn’t down to a lack of effort, rather, a very controlled and professional performance by the visitors.
- 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, re-watch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: Kosovan
- Age: 22
- Date of birth: 05/03/2000
- Current club: Hammarby IF
- Career: Halmstads BK; Hammarby IF
- Position: Centre Back
- Secondary position: Right Back
- Preferred foot: Right
Edvin Kurtulus started as right centre back up against Sirius before moving to right back after subs made around the 75th minute. The 22 year old right footer put on a very comfortable display showcasing his talents, albeit against lesser opposition.
In build up, Kurtulus was clever in his positioning and would often drop a couple of yards deeper than Fenger, his CB partner. This provided Fenger a passing option when pressed which helped Hammarby progress the ball relatively easily even when under pressure.
On the ball, Kurtulus was very comfortable and looked to progress the ball on quickly, generally only taking one or two touches. By having the ability to move the ball on quickly, it meant he was often able to take good opportunities to pass the ball further up the pitch safely to unmarked teammates. When there wasn’t a teammate available to pass to, Edvin was sufficiently composed to dribble forward and break the opposition’s defensive lines. Furthermore, he never panicked when under pressure and was aware enough to know when to pass back to his goalkeeper when that was the best option.
Out of possession, Kurtulus was very alert to danger and scanned effectively to ensure he was aware of late runs from the opposition when they counter-attacked. When the ball was in front of him, he used his vision and understanding of the game to intercept or pressure the opponent from their first touch. This proactiveness allowed his team to regain possession more quickly either from Edvin’s tackle or interception, or his immediate presence leading to the opponent making a poor decision. The slight downside to this however, is that it led to Kurtulus’ early booking. This was a needless foul and there was nothing really in it. It came from him preempting where the ball was going but just catching his man slightly late from behind. This occurred around the halfway line, so there was no danger caused from it, but this is a warning sign that being slightly late regarding his proactiveness could lead to trouble for his team in future matches.
That being said, his timing was excellent throughout the rest of the match. This was exemplified by a terrific sliding tackle in his own box to prevent a huge goal scoring opportunity. This came about when Sirius had a 2v1 against him but he was able to use his acceleration and knowledge of the threats surrounding him to make this excellent challenge. This ties into my next point.
Edvin Kurtulus is a calming presence both on and off the ball. His consistency to make the right decision in possession combined with the fact he never looks rushed allows his teammates to have confidence when he has possession. Furthermore, he was often seen talking to his teammates and pointing to help maintain good positions in their defensive line. This leadership and communication allowed those around him to be more comfortable as they could focus on themselves while also being essentially coached through the game at times by him. Kurtulus even kept his calm and was focused when facing counter attacks himself and was able to slow the opposition down to give time for his teammates to get back into position.
Part of his calmness comes from his ability to protect the ball well using his body and draw fouls from the opponent to relieve pressure from his team. While he did this well at CB, it was even more apparent after Hammarby made some substitutions and he was moved to RB. In this position he was often pressed more quickly by Sirius and this, at times, meant he had a lack of passing options. When this happened, he was very happy to turn his back to the opponent and shield the ball using his body. This either led to the opponent fouling him or one of his defensive partners having time to adjust their position to help him out.
Rating – A2
Edvin Kurtulus is an excellent young defender based on his display in this game. He has all the qualities that are looked for in a modern day centre back which he was able to show well in this match. He was a key reason for Hammarby’s clean sheet and, despite this being against relatively weaker opposition, I’d be surprised if he didn’t get a move to a bigger league in the next season or two.
- Nationality: Swedish
- Age: 18
- Date of birth: 01/02/2004
- Current club: Hammarby IF
- Career: Hammarby IF
- Position: Left Wing
- Secondary position: Central Midfield
- Preferred foot: Right
Swedberg played on the left wing for the entirety of the match and bagged himself two goals in the process. The first thing that stood out when watching him was his tactical level of understanding of the way Hammerby play. There are many technically excellent players who are produced by the big “talent developing” clubs such as Ajax and Lyon but often their biggest flaw is that lack of tactical understanding. It is normal that this comes later with more experience. Not so for Swedberg. He was positionally disciplined both defensively and offensively throughout the match.
Out of possession, Swedberg stuck to his task throughout with high energy and lots of running. His pressing led to several turnovers and was consistent throughout. It is important to note that this was not running after the ball like a headless chicken but clearly drilled and based off pressing triggers identified pre-match.
When the ball was nearside in the build-up, he kept very high and wide. When receiving the ball from there he was direct with his dribbling and would drive out-to-in diagonally which made it difficult to stop him and led to confusion between Sirius’ players at times as to when they were passing him over to one another.
When Hammerby were in possession on the right hand side, Swedberg found himself drifting more centrally, at the extreme he ended up in a traditional strikers position. Drifting in from wide was effective during this match as it often meant he was in his opponent’s blindspot, which is very difficult to defend against. This is how he scores the first goal. Sirius did not cover themselves for glory by allowing the low cross to come all the way across the face of goal. However, this should not detract from the clever movement from Swedberg who uses his body to block the oncoming defender from getting back into position, before tapping the ball in.
Williot is an excellent dribbler and this was shown often during this match. He has quick feet to get himself, and the ball, out of potentially tricky situations. He is very calm on the ball and often slows down to draw the defender into committing. Then he either uses his acceleration and pushes the ball past the opponent or releases the ball to a teammate.
He does not look muscular, but is tall, and this is important considering the regularity of the fouls he was on the receiving end of. He rides challenges well and, when he is chopped down, never looks fazed and quickly gets back up on his feet.
His second goal comes from a corner. He loses his marker very easily and is allowed to drift towards the back post where he calmly heads in the cross, which has been knocked on from a teammate, from about a yard out. This ability to lose a marker when anticipating a cross was seen throughout the match. In such a situation, rather than occupy the defenders, he often drops a yard or two of the defensive line which makes it both easier for a teammate to pick him out and also gives himself that extra bit of time and space to get a shot on target.
Rating – A1
Williot Swedberg has clear talent and was one of the best on the pitch despite being just 18. In the future I’d like to see him develop an aggressiveness to his game offensively. For example being braver and throwing himself at half chances from balls in the box should lead to an extra couple of goals a season which makes a difference at the elite level, which in my opinion, there is little doubt he is headed for. It’s hard to validate the reasonableness of links to Manchester United and Barcelona off just one match but being so comfortable at such a young age in the professional game is not normal and I imagine he’ll be headed to a big club sooner rather than later.