2021/22 mid-season review: Bohemians Praha 1905

source: gol.cz

Welcome to a brand-new Fortuna:Liga series, reviewing each and every team’s 2021 autumn one by one, one day at a time, until the league finally gets back underway on February 5. This is not a particularly new thing or a format, mind — it’s mostly just this Twitter thread moved into the Medium space, containing a couple of new categories without the strict word limit and some more polished graphics from Adam.

Preface for those eagerly awaiting another installment of Power Rankings and MVP race series: this will act as one installment as the clubs are sorted in the exact order they would be if this was Power Rankings, and we’ll delve into my MVP model as well. Only the All-stars will have to wait — those will come after Round 20 (ie. two thirds of the regular season), I reckon. So soon after restart.

We are entering the territory, I’m afraid, where even the fans of the teams freshly featured will yell at me how do I dare to rank them so high. If you follow at least a couple of Bohemians supporters, you know they are tired of coach Klusáček and consider him instantly fireable for earning a mere 9 points since October. I get it, but it’s never bad to learn about a silver lining, is it?

To be completely honest, the table appears fairly easy to split into three distinct group of teams for me: a well-rounded Top 7, two very bad teams at the bottom, and then the mushy middle you could rank in just about any order. What I mean is that if you wanted to tell me Bohemians should rank 13th at a maximum, I’d happily listen to your argument. But now, please, do hear mine about why Bohemians are actually the 9th best F:Liga side.

Good luck to me, I guess.

Key numbers

1:5: Bohemians are a peculiar case, because clearly they must’ve gotten unlucky at some point(s) along the way, yet if you look at their 5 best xG performances… they won 4 of those matchups. No great injustice then. It’s just that there was no other victory for them to enjoy whatsoever. So, while other teams routinely pick up at least 2 or 3 slightly undeserved wins per autumn, with a few uninspired draws sprinkled inbetween, “Klokani” seem plain unable to do so — to the point it looks like a legitimate curse. Ultimately, though, if you really needed to put the finger on who exactly screwed Bohemians over, feel free to circle the whole Prague and clubs that reside in it. The one Top 5 xG matchup the green-and-white couldn’t win was vs Sparta (1:1 draw early on), while Pardubice have owned Ďolíček — actual home of Bohemians. They won both “Ďolíček derbies” to the tune of a combined 5:1 scoreline despite recording a combined xG scoreline of 1,55 : 3,94. Heh.

-13,77: I know for a fact Bohemians fans love Patrik Le Giang, and why wouldn’t you love such a caring human being? But should you nonetheless mourn his departure on a sporting level? The answer, for me, is a “nope”. Hugo Jan Bačkovský — universally less preferred across the fanbase — is arguably an even bigger culprit, but the bottom line remains: both Bohemians custodians together have allowed 13,77 more goals than expected (the worst rate in the league), overperforming their individual xCG on only three occasions of 19 (two of those occasions are clean sheets, so duh). A total of six goals bears their signature, with only Teplice providing a goalkeeping duo (Čtvrtečka-Grigar) at least partially at fault for more goals than them (7).

68,6%: I can already tell you Bohemians will miss Vladislav Levin, who’s returned to Russia, more than they probably realize at this very moment. He’s a very high risk/high reward kind of a holding midfielder, so there’s a ton of frustration inherently attached to him as a player (possession losses of no other Bohemians player have led to as many shots against as those of Levin), but he’s still a big part of why “Klokani” have controlled the game flow down the middle better than any team not called Slavia and Plzeň. That’s quite incredible, especially since their 68,6% xG share is made of real two-way dominance. Going forward, Bohemians’ central channel actually ranks 2nd in positional attacks (0,55 xGF per game), also thanks to 13 deep completed passes and 10 chance-creating actions from Levin, their lowest midfielder.

MVP race

Bohemians fans’ love for their goalkeepers isn’t overly difficult to quantify, really, as Le Giang (3) and Bačkovský (4) combine for a ludicrous 7 man-of-the-match awards from voting spectators. It doesn’t make any rational sense.

But it’s not like guys upfront are tripping over each other to make themselves visible. Only seven Bohemians players have bagged go-ahead goals or equalizers (the second lowest number) and only attacking-minded players of Teplice and Karviná combine for a lower average mark from Deník Sport (5).

Most valuable player: David Puškáč

Where would Bohemians be without him, honestly? He’s notched 6 of their 15 important goals (40%) despite staying healthy for just 805 mins of playing time (47% of the available minutes). Per CSfotbal’s expected points added model, if you were to subtract all Puškáč’s strikes, Bohemians would lose at least 5 points — placing them just two points above Teplice, at 14th. Yikes.

And that’s not counting his underrated interplay, mind. Puškáč has provided one assist, one more goal contribution (landing a hand to that lovely passing goal move vs Jablonec), and added five chance-creating actions on top. He’s a complete striker on his day, making Bohemians a much less defendable side.

Wild card: Roman Květ

His fans didn’t appreciate him through a single MotM vote, Fortuna:Liga didn’t shortlist him for a single Team of the Week, and he hasn’t scored a single goal of at least some value to his team. So how the hell is he a wild card? It’s because he nevertheless sits 3rd on his team’s MVP leaderboard thanks to his four primary assists, two more 2nd/3rd assists and a unique blend of pressing and creativity in general. There are only seven other Fortuna:Liga players with 20+ ball recoveries in final third (23) and 20+ chance-creating actions (24) to their name, and it’s never a bad thing to find yourself in the same company as Pavel Bucha, Lukáš Sadílek or Ewerton da Silva. Never.

source: bohemians.cz

Other notable players

a brief rundown of players who caught my eye for right or wrong reasons

The one I was too high on: Jan Kovařík

As I suggested in my season preview, there must’ve been some hope inside the Bohemians camp that Kovařík’s left foot would come to life in Ďolíček the same way Podaný’s left foot did a couple of years ago. I’m not sure it did. Kovařík did complete 13 crosses in/to dangerous areas (2nd on team, just ahead of Květ), and that’s arguably why he arrived in the first place, but is it enough? I haven’t liked his backtracking and positional switching off (on set pieces too) and 5 chances created via set piece actually doesn’t seem to be all that many given his formidable pedigree. Kovařík can, and should, do better.

The one I was too low on: Ibrahim Keita

Last winter, I tagged him a dead man walking, putting him down as a mid-season bust with “no role and next to no influence on the team”. Now, it’s not like Keita has made me eat those words fully, but he’s certainly on the right track again. Four in/direct goal contributions in 852 minutes is a decent departure point, but what’s more important for me: Keita looks involved, interested, simply rejuvenated. Deník Sport authors have picked him as their MotM twice already (just like Daniel Köstl, another 2020/21 mid-season bust whom I remain pretty low on, though) as he bullied Zlín in Round 7 to the tune of two points and three chance-creating actions, and then once again performed well in Round 15 against České Budějovice (goal + two CCA).

The one that got away (from most radars): Vojtěch Novák

Klusáček isn’t too high on him, apparently because of his lacking defensive contribution, and he’s always going to lag behind Petr Hronek in that respect, but should you even try to make an attacking player with such game-breaking potential any sort of a complete, workhorse type of a player? I’d argue not; the fresh 20-year-old wouldn’t have averaged a ridiculous 1,93 chance/goal involvements per 90 mins if he wasn’t primarily focused on attacking. Set him free. But, most importantly, play him at all in the first place. There’s a decent argument to be made about Novák being wasted by “Klokani” at the moment.

If you made it here and enjoyed the article, please do consider supporting me and Adam by donating a small amount of money at BuyMeACoffee page. Thanks!

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One independent Czech writer’s views on Czech football. Simple as that really. Also to be found on Twitter @czechfooty.

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Tomas Danicek

Tomas Danicek

One independent Czech writer’s views on Czech football. Simple as that really. Also to be found on Twitter @czechfooty.

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