2021/22 team preview: SK Slavia Praha

source: sport.cz

Looking back on 2020/21

What went (particularly) right

What went (especially) wrong

Most valuable player

for more background on each metric, read this guide

Chip on the shoulder

Inside the club’s off-season

Squad turnover

Biggest addition

Greatest subtraction

New kid on the block

Looking ahead to 2021/22

  • Right off the bat, note that all rosters had been sealed for the purposes of this exercised on Sunday, because otherwise the ranking would be all over the shop. Pencil Krmenčík in as a starting striker and push aside whomever you feel worst about — a tough call, but with Sima on the way out, Schranz arguably completely disappears from the CF depth and moves to RW full-time. Ousou will likely take the place of injured Hovorka and skip over Tijani who’s looking to make a positive return after a serious knee injury;
  • Not like the eventual presence of Krmenčík and Ousou moves the needle all that much in the Czech context. Whatever you think of their European exploits, I’d still have Sparta’s Hložek-Dočkal one-two punch (I group CF+CAM together for these rankings) down as stronger than anything Slavia choose to counter with. In central midfield, I prefer Plzeň’s depth ever so slightly, mostly because Provod will miss at least half a season. And elsewhere, Slavia naturally reign supreme — most of the time comfortably;
  • Who does move the needle rather emphatically: Srđan Plavšić. Paraphrasing @vojtechhulinsky, Slavia had been missing “a skillful dribbler with low center of gravity and a quick first few steps” ever since Miňo Stoch left, and it was particularly obvious against teams sitting in a deep block;
  • I don’t want to dig into the Slavia captain too much, but there’s one more Bořil-related thing I’d like to point out: while Slavia owned the most dangerous right flank and central channel when it came to xG generated from positional attacks, their left-hand side only ranked 6th league-wide. That’s not a huge issue in the wider scheme of things (because the left flank was also the sole Slavia channel leading the league in preventing chances), but I still thought it’s a worthy build-up for this table below that shows you how — dare I say — replaceable (?!) Olayinka and Sima appear:
  • I might be entirely wrong, but Jakub Hromada strikes me as that kind of a player who shines in 5-8 individual games a year (and sometimes, as it happens, those are some truly big ones — like Leicester at home), but over a longer period, he’s not nearly as reliable as he should be for Slavia standards. As you can see, Holeš is a way more consistent performer:
  • Ubong Ekpai is cleary a coaching staff’s pet project, and a fascinating one to follow. It’s no secret he’s barely played, hardly stayed fit and only scored once (ironically against Slavia) in the past three years, but Trpišovský et co. clearly still hold him in high regard going back to the Slovan days, and it’s not like this reunion comes in Ekpai’s twilight years or anything. He’s still 25, so of course he can turn it around. The biggest issue is how stacked Slavia are at RW even without Sima — there’s a lot of bush to cut through. @zivadira points out how level-headed he sounded in his first interview, which should serve the winger right, especially in such a situation;
  • Ondřej Kúdela is better and better and better... I can’t wait for him at 38:

Statistical/tactical trend to follow

Roster battle to follow

  1. Both are good with their feet, but Kolář excels in spreading passes to the byline Van der Sar-style, whereas Mandous offers greater value on long distance (Kolář completes 50,7% passes into final third; Mandous 69,2%);
  2. Both are sweeper keepers in broad nature, but once the whole team is pinned back, you’ll notice Kolář getting a bit too passive, a bit too rooted to the goal-line, whereas Mandous tends to leave the line and intercept more;

Bold prediction



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