Preview of Superliga 2015/2016 (spring season)

14 February 2016 | 8:17 pm

Preview of Superliga 2015/2016 (spring season)

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Preview of Superliga 2015/2016 (spring season)

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With only two weeks left until
the Danish Superliga kicks off again, it is time to look ahead. I have gone
through every team and the most important winter changes. I have also added
some stats from the first part of the season. For a description of the stats:
TSR, Total Shots Ratio, is a team’s share of
the total shots in their matches. This is defined as:
TSR=Total
shots by team/Total shots by team and opponent
SoTR, Shots on Target Ratio, is a team’s share
of the total shots on target in their matches. This is defined as:
SoTR=Total
shots on target by team/Total shots on target by team and opponent
PDO, is a measure from hockey, that has been
applied to football. It is often seen as a measure of how lucky/unlucky a team
has been, although the better teams seem to overperform in terms of PDO. PDO is
defined as:
PDO=1000x(Saving%+Scoring%).
Winter changes club-by-club
Points: 35 (plus one match not
played yet)
·           
Erik Johansson
(Gent) – central defender
·           
Robin Olsen
(PAOK) – goalkeeper
·           
Daniel
Amartey (Leicester) – central midfielder
FC Copenhagen sold one of the
biggest profiles, midfield powerhouse Daniel Amartey, but they received an
offer they simply could not refuse. FC Copenhagen have a decent midfield
alternative in William Kvist, an experienced Denmark international, but
Amartey’s departure is surely a loss. In the central defence, Johansson is a
good signing and he could go straight into the line-up. Olsen is signed on loan
as a quality replacement for Stephan Andersen who suffered a serious injury in
January. FC Copenhagen have an impressive squad depth and without many changes
during the winter break, they are clear favourites to win this season. They
have also looked strong in friendlies until now.
·           
None
·           
Henrik
Dalsgaard (Zulte Waregem) – right back
AaB played terrific football
during the final part of 2015, which led to huge interest for the most talented
players. Due to the unexpected possibility to challenge for the title, AaB have
kept the best players. They were forced to let Dalsgaard go as his contract
expired. This is undoubtedly a big loss since Dalsgaard was the best right back
in the league with his powerful forward runs. The likely replacement Patrick
Kristensen is a versatile and experienced player, but lacks the offensive
qualities of Dalsgaard. AaB still have an offensively great team, but they will
face problems if injuries occur.
Points: 31 (plus one match not
played yet)
·           
Vaclav
Kadlec (Frankfurt) – striker/winger
·           
Harmeet
Singh (Molde) – central midfielder
·           
Nikolay
Bodurov (Fulham) – central defender
·           
Erik
Sviatchenko (Celtic) – central defender
·           
Morten
Duncan Rasmussen (AGF) – striker
FC Midtjylland have made a number
of changes during the winter. The ones above are only the most important – they
have also signed a number of foreign youngsters, while a number of mainly
back-up Danish players have left. In total, FC Midtjylland have a very
international squad, which undoubtedly have a lot of quality. However, it is a
clear concern that selling two of the most charismatic and influential players
in Sviatchenko and Duncan could hurt them in the short run. Especially
Sviatchenko will be difficult to replace. However, captain Kristian Bach Bak is
set to finally return after the autumn was hampered by injury. Kadlec is
probably the most impressive signing. The Czech player is looking to revive his
career in FC Midtjylland and should be a key player in the league. FC
Midtjylland are set to be without their creative midfield force Petter
Andersson for the spring season, which is a set back, but new-signing Singh
could be a fine replacement. FC Midtjylland start the year with Europa League
matches against Manchester United, which could be beneficial for the start of
the spring season.
·           
Marcel Rømer
(Viborg) – central midfielder
·           
Simon Kroon
(Malmø FF) – winger
·           
Baldur
Sigurdsson (Stjarnan) – versatile defensive player
SønderjyskE were one of the big
surprises in autumn. They succeeded in a defensive approach with focus on
counter-attacking. This also explains why they earn more points away from home.
SønderjyskE have not changed much during the winter break. They have bolstered
the midfield with the signings of Rømer and Kroon, both fine players, but they
are not going to set the league on fire. Only departure of some relevance is
Sigurdsson who was mostly used as a cover player in case of injuries. Overall,
SønderjyskE look to be around the same level as last year and they will do
their utmost to stay in the top half.
·           
Kamil
Wilczek (Carpi) – striker
·           
David Boysen
(Lyngby) – winger
·           
Ronnie
Schwartz (Brøndby) – striker
·           
Elbasan
Rashani (Rosenborg) – winger
·           
Dario Dumic
(NEC Nijmegen) – central defender
Don’t put too much into the
Brøndby departures. All were rotation players that did not quite impress, the
reason why they have now left the club. The new signings are not the most
impressive either. It is true that David Boysen is the current Danish 1st
Division top goalscorer, but he has already had his chance at the best level in
Viborg and failed to succeed. Now at a much bigger club, it looks difficult for
him. However, he should give Brøndby an extra option on the wings, where they
look weak. The other signing Wilczek is quite a dark horse. He was the top
goalscorer in the Polish Extraklasa last season, but his summer move to Carpi
only resulted in sitting on the bench. It will be interesting to see if he can
be the real quality striker that Brøndby have lacked.
·           
None
·           
None
Nothing really important has
happened at Randers, perhaps due to some turmoil off the pitch, where a club
takeover and also a change of sporting director were rumoured. However, the
lack of changes is not necessarily bad. Randers will be able to focus even more
on strengthening their solid organisation. Randers have looked good in
preparation matches and managed to get a draw against a very Shakhtar Donetsk
team.
·           
Izunna
Uzochukwu (Amkar Perm) – central midfielder
·           
Joan Simun
Edmundsson (Vejle) – offensive midfielder
·           
Emil Larsen
(Columbus Crew) – winger
·           
Kenneth
Zohore (Cardiff) – striker
The biggest winter news in OB is
the departure of star player Rasmus Falk to FC Copenhagen. However, this move
will not happen until summer, so Falk has some months to end his long stint in
OB in a good way. It will be interesting to see if he is able to perform well,
as many OB fans are far from satisfied with Falk’s decision. OB are very
dependent on Falk’s offensive skills, so his motivation is important. OB have
made two nice signings. Izunna is a very skilled defensive midfielder who is an
excellent ball winner, while Edmundsson was a key offensive player in Vejle. OB
lose two players that on paper look important, but in reality they should be
able to cope. Emil Larsen has not delivered in a long time, while Zohore did
have some good matches, but Anders K. Jacobsen is an excellent alternative. OB
have not upgraded the backline although it was far from impressive in autumn.
·           
Tobias
Mikkelsen (Rosenborg) – winger
·           
Bruninho
(Guangzhou) – striker
FC Nordsjælland have lost their
most vital player in Bruninho. He scored 9 goals in autumn, which was half the
total goal tally of FC Nordsjælland. FC Nordsjælland have not signed a
replacement so young Ingvartsen is likely to be on pressure to succeed as the
lone striker. On the plus side is the new head coach, Kasper Hjulmand, who
directed FC Nordsjælland to their first ever championship title. He is back
from an unsuccessful stay in Mainz, but in Danish standards he is a big
capacity. Furthermore, he has managed to sign one of his former profiles in
winger Tobias Mikkelsen. After some successful years in Norway, he is expected
to be a fine addition to FC Nordsjælland. Captain and left back Patrick Mtiliga
has picked up an injury that will keep him out for the start of the season,
which means that FC Nordsjælland will lack some experience and field a very
young team. Look out for young offensive player Emre Mor who is expected to
breakthrough to the senior level.
·           
Nicklas
Backman (Dalian Aerbin) – central defender
·           
Morten
Duncan Rasmussen (FC Midtjylland) – striker
·           
Ahmed Yasin
(AIK) – winger
AGF go into the season with loads
of optimism. There are many reasons for this, but the main reason is a new head
coach. Glen Riddersholm, who won the Superliga with FC Midtjylland last season,
is now in charge and he brings a lot of optimism and passion. Add to this that
AGF have made two quality signings. Backman looks like an important upgrade of
a mediocre backline, while Duncan is a local hero and a real goalgetter. These
two signings improve AGF remarkably. Yasin has left the club, but he was
nothing more than a rotation player. The performances during the preparation
friendlies also signal that AGF could face a fine spring, although friendlies
should be interpreted with caution.
·           
Mikkel
Vestergaard (Esbjerg) – striker/winger
·           
George
Fochive (Portland Timbers) – central midfielder
·           
Søren
Frederiksen (KR Reykjavik) – back
·           
Christian
Sivebæk (Vejle) – winger
·           
Marcel Rømer
(SønderjyskE) – central midfielder
Viborg have made some changes,
but they are not spectacular. Vestergaard and Frederiksen are both fine
players, but were nothing more than rotation players in their past Superliga
appearances. American Fochive has received a lot of praise after a trial, but
he mostly looks like a gamble. Viborg have lost Sivebæk, rotation player, and
Rømer who lost his position as starter during the autumn. In total, Viborg look
to be around same quality as in autumn.
·           
Andreas
Nordvik (Sarpsborg) – central defender
·           
Ronnie
Schwartz (Brøndby) – striker
·           
Jeppe
Højbjerg (Fredericia) – goalkeeper
·           
Jesper
Jørgensen (Zulte Waregem) – central midfielder
·           
Jesper
Lauridsen (FC Midtjylland) – left back
·           
Nikolaj
Hagelskjær (Fredericia) – right back
·           
Nicki Bille
Nielsen (Lech Poznan) – striker
·           
Hans Henrik
Andreasen (Hobro) – central midfielder
After an abysmal autumn, Esbjerg
have really invested heavily ahead of the spring season. Especially the defence
has been bad, and Esbjerg could field a totally new backline and goalkeeper in
2016. Young prominent keeper Højbjerg has been recalled from loan and is
expected to start. Nordvik is signed to bolster defence and will start if he
recovers from injury in time. Lauridsen is a solid signing for the left back,
while Hagelskjær is a fine back-up if Laursen should continue to struggle with
injury. Furthermore, the signing of local Jesper Jørgensen could improve
Esbjerg’s central midfield. Schwartz has been signed as replacement for Nicki
Bille who never adapted to the life in Esbjerg. In total, Esbjerg look much
more convincing than in autumn, although the many changes could give problems
at first.
·           
Babajide
Ogunbiye (Hobro) – central defender
·           
Hans Henrik
Andreasen (Esbjerg) – central midfielder
·           
Michael
Christensen (Start Kristiansand) – central defender
·           
Wilfried
Domoraud (free transfer) – winger
·           
Adama
Tamboura (free transfer) – left back
Hobro have mostly upgraded ahead
of the spring. They have to give it a shot, although the chances look poor. One
reason for optimism is the new head coach Ove Pedersen who is a veteran head
coach with a history of making remarkable results, especially for the smaller
clubs. He has made some signings, mainly for the defensive part. He has focused
physique, which he will get with the signings of Ogunbiye and Andreasen.
Offensively, Hobro actually have some fine players in George, Kirkevold and
Park, so maybe Pedersen can find the right recipe which will see Hobro rebound
after a concerning autumn. However, in general the gap seems too big compared
to the overall squad quality.
Modelling the rest of the season
Based on historical data I have
made a model to analyse the probability of match outcomes. The model uses SoTR
and PDO as input factors (PDO as scoring percentage and saving percentage).
Based on my own subjective evaluation of team strength, I have put some numbers
into the model in order to simulate the remaining matches in the season. You
can see the numbers below.
In the title fight I expect FC
Copenhagen to be even more dominant in terms of SoTR, while I expect the
departure of key players to be costly for FC Midtjylland, why I have lowered
their expected SoTR. I expect AaB to be around same level as in autumn, although
the loss of Dalsgaard could have a cost.
In the mid-table, I don’t expect
AGF and SønderjyskE to keep up some quite high SoTR percentages from the
autumn. AGF for instance are set to change their style of play, why I expect
them to take fewer shots from the distance, which will have a cost on the SoTR
but a reward in terms of scoring percentage. I think SønderjyskE overperformed
in autumn, and I think the assigned SoTR is still quite impressive for a team
of SønderjyskE’s size.
In the bottom, I expect Esbjerg
and Hobro to be significantly more dominant. Both have made winter signings
that should improve their quality.
Below you find the simulation. As
you can see the model suggests that FC Copenhagen will take a quite secure title
victory, while the race for 2nd is set to be very tight. I predict a good
spring for Brøndby, partially due to an easy schedule, and they are set to earn
just around as many points per game in the spring as FC Midtjylland. In the
bottom half, I still expect Hobro to earn the fewest points, and while I
predict that they will earn more points per game in the spring, the gap to the
teams ahead will be too big to bridge.
If you find this interesting and
would like to see what the model predicts with your own input (SoTR, scoring
and saving percentages), then feel free to send me an email at superligabets@gmail.com.
Some fine season bets come
to mind:
FC Copenhagen to win the league –
1.55 at Cashpoint
FC Copenhagen are already in pole
position in the league with one match in spare. They are the strongest team and
have the most impressive squad depth. For value of this pick, 65% chance of
success is needed, and I am willing to give them around 70%.
AaB to finish in top 3 – 1.85 at Bet25
(Unibet with 1.80 – also fine value)
AaB had a nice winter window.
They only lost Dalsgaard, but were able to keep the rest despite of some
serious interest for players like Spalvis and Thomsen. If AaB can avoid
injuries for key players, I find it difficult to see how they will lose out on
a podium finish. Nearest probable rival for a top 3 position is Brøndby and
they already have a 5 point lead. And I don’t think Brøndby have a stronger
team.
AGF to finish ahead of FC Nordsjælland
– 2.05 at Tipico
AGF are one point behind FC
Nordsjælland and although they have a slightly more difficult remaining
schedule, they also made significant upgrades in the winter break with Duncan
and Backman plus a new quality head coach. FC Nordsjælland have sold their best
player, Bruninho, who scored half their goals in autumn and captain Mtiliga
just picked up an injury. I see AGF as a stronger team ahead of the spring. An
alternative is OB to beat FC Nordsjælland at 1.70 at the same place.

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