2021/22 mid-season review: FK Teplice
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.
With 11 points after 19 rounds, Teplice would be sitting at the bottom of the table in 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20. Then last year, Opava would be the worst (9 points), and this year, there’s the historically bad Karviná. That could very well mean that Teplice — a club in dire need of a proper restart — somehow avoid the relegation once more. All that glitters is not gold etc. etc., and surviving for another year while stubbornly languishing and wasting time with veterans sounds exactly like the opposite of a blessing in disguise…
2,26: When Teplice travel, the hosts can already set up the fireworks. (Unless they are Jablonec and they’ve signed some sort of a sick deal with the Devil.) Teplice have left their region exactly 10 times and the average expected goals against accounting for those 10 trips is a staggering 2,26. For reference, Karviná sit at 1,92 xGA; vast difference of ~1-2 golden chances per game. To be fair, Teplice have already crossed out 5 of the 6 toughest trips on schedule; per my fairly complex model accounting for 11 different indicators, at least, all of Slavia, Sparta, Jablonec, Boleslav and Slovácko fit into Top 6. Yet all the same, Teplice got absolutely hammered by Zlín or Bohemians, and thoroughly outplayed by Karviná, for which there’s largely no legitimate excuse. Teplice have earned just over a quarter of all expected goals on their trips (25,4%), the worst mark in the league that could ultimately tank their survival bid.
29,64: Despite not being the most talented outfit by any stretch of imagination, Teplice aren’t straightforward when it comes to attacking. Quite the opposite: they arguably muck about too much. On average, Teplice players exchange by far the most passes before touching the ball in the opponent’s penalty box (29,64), needing the most attacks per touch in box (2,24) and entering the penalty area from open play with the least success of all teams in the league (only 39,7% of the time). It makes sense for a bad team to not touch the ball close to the opponent’s goal too often, you might argue, and sure, but even the clueless Příbram and Opava of last term had more imagination (played more smart passes) and did less of the extra passing.
50: That’s the most offensive duels in the final third any Teplice player has undergone across the whole autumn. The top number belongs to Jan Fortelný, and it’s very comfortably the lowest total for a team leader. The league average for a team leader, meanwhile, stands at 98,8 duels. Quantity is not as important as quality, I hear you say? Well, Jakub Mareš tops out at 17 successful high offensive duels, with the league average reading 39,1. What does it mean? I believe it neatly complements the point I was making earlier: Teplice are not a daring team, and it’s costing them loads of opportunities.
For no other team in the league is a goalkeeper as important relative to the rest of the squad as for Teplice. Despite contributing to seven goals conceded by their own sub-par play, Tomáš Grigar and Jan Čtvrtečka account for more than 10% of all MVP points earned by Teplice players. League-wide, their MVP point total would only make them the 10th strongest pair. But yeah, the rest of the squad is mostly trash, and by that, it hypes their relative value.
Most valuable player: Jan Fortelný
Despite missing the first 4 rounds and then two more, Fortelný eventually vindicated the board’s summer-long wait for his renewed loan rather emphatically. An elusive, combative attacking midfielder with a peculiar penchant for a yellow card (already has seven to his name, an average of one for 113 mins!), the Sparta loanee has been involved in 8 Teplice goals — an amazing 42% of all Teplice goals. Meanwhile, 10 of his chance-creating actions went untapped, and what’s quite incredible in its own right: nine of them were primary, meaning he was the final contributor to the chance.
Wild card: Štěpán Krunert
Offering a wavy, energetic presence, Krunert has often been the actual wild card for his coaches, on most occasions bringing the rare sense of urgency to Teplice’s attack from the bench. His limited utilization is a bit peculiar and I’m not sure why that is, because no one contributes to chance-creation at a higher rate per 90 mins (1,11) and no attacking Teplice player recovers as many balls by engaging in a ground duel (28; the next one is Fortelný with 17), with two of his interceptions actually leading to a goalscoring chance. Perhaps he couldn’t keep his usual high intensity up for the entire 90 minutes?
Other notable players
a brief rundown of players who caught my eye for right or wrong reasons
The ones I was too high & too low on: Jan Čtvrtečka & Tomáš Grigar
You may recall that when I was introducing my approach to advanced stats, I explicitly stated a small sample could influence the goalkeeping position the most of all positions. Accordingly, I identified three of the top 2020/21 custodians — Vojtěch Vorel, Jiří Letáček and Jan Čtvrtečka — as particularly prone to heavy regression, and it was a predictable hit-and-miss between the trio. Vorel remains a hit, Letáček is a bit of a grey zone currently, and Čtvrtečka (though the weakest of the three going into the season, to be fair) has been a wild miss since the league restarted. He’s still kept more clean sheets than Grigar (funny), but also caused three goals, losing his starting gig for good through an especially awful performance at Slovácko (R10).
After saving 1,05 goals above expected across ten 2020/21 starts, he now allowed 3,36 goals more than expected in seven 2021/22 starts, and so it makes sense he’s since had his loan from Sparta terminated prematurely.
In stepped 38-year-old Grigar who I thought was washed, and he’s turned out OK. It’s not like he hasn’t conceded soft goals (he absolutely has), but his shot stopping is back to its difference-making standard from 2018–20. The veteran’s career trajectory took a nosedive in 2020/21 as he seemingly struggled to keep up with the hectic workload behind a notoriously leaky Teplice defence, but now he appears to be coping just fine despite still having to stand on his head all too often. In fact, Grigar is now facing even more leather than last term, but has already prevented 4,6 conceded goals. Only Aleš Mandous has overperformed his individual xCG to a higher degree.
It’s only down to Grigar’s exploits — having to swim against the tide called Čtvrtečka — that Teplice’s goalkeeping still ranks a fantastic 6th in the league.
The ones that got away (from most radars): Pavel Moulis & David Černý
At the start of the winter camp, Teplice announced they don’t expect — among others — Pavel Moulis and David Černý to return as they’ve been instructed to find a new club. That either points at some internal division/difference of opinion, or these two guys flowing under the internal radar rather than the external one since most fans and neutral spectators seemed to be surprised.
In one sweeping move, the board decided to shed 18% of all chance-creating actions and a gifted duo capable of sparking the offence if afforded a greater share of playing time. Moulis was the club’s most prolific player of 2020/21 (who, yes, went from 11 points to zero, but the dip in actual play hasn’t been nearly as pronounced), while Černý’s five goal involvements are nothing to scoff at either. Dumping Succar, Laňka (even without the match-fixing allegations) or potentially Mareček? By all means. But this felt like a vendetta.
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