Following the curtailing of the Eredivisie 2019/20 season due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19, Champions League contestants Ajax weren’t the only ones looking to strengthen their squad. PEC Zwolle found themselves one place outside of the relegation play-off zone, clear of the area only by goal difference. With one of the best goal-scoring records in the bottom half of the division, their attention seems to have turned to investing in defensive reinforcements, which potentially was a contributing factor in the departure of striker Lennart Thy. The 28-year-old German has agreed to join fellow Eredivisie club Sparta Rotterdam, who finished the season in 11th place. While Rotterdam’s defence is also far from perfect, they clearly identified a need for stronger competition in attack, bringing in Thy to challenge their current strikers such as Ragnar Ache, while acting as a replacement for the talented Halil Dervisoglu, who recently departed the club to join EFL Championship outfit Brentford. This scout report will provide a technical and tactical analysis of Lennart Thy, before the introduction of an analysis of his 2019/20 stats, pitting them against other Sparta Rotterdam strikers.
Position and Role
Lennart Thy is solely a central striker, able to operate as a lone striker, or in a partnership. Standing at 6-foot-tall, he has a good balance of reliable quickness, physicality, and aerial presence, which allows him to be effective in a variety of scenarios. While he doesn’t particularly excel in any of those traits, his ability within those traits allows him to make smart runs in behind a defender, make runs into the channels to receive the ball during build-up play, lurk around the deepest opposition central defender to receive a long ball and challenge for it in the air, or drop in deep to receive a pass to feet and fend off any opposition challenge.
As mentioned, his physical stature and attributes enable Thy to make smart movements into space during attacks. Yes, things like pace are important in these situations, but there is also an art in timing the run and picking the right direction and area to run into.
The image above shows his intelligence in the penalty area during an attack. With the Zwolle winger in possession on the right wing, Thy, as a striker, must be prepared for a cross or pass into the box. Noticing that his teammate in the penalty area is running in the direction of the in-possession winger and therefore taking his marker with him, Thy identifies a totally unoccupied area around the edge of the six-yard box (the blue zone), and proceeds to move into it. While the ball never reaches Thy, his quick thinking puts him a strong position ready for a delivery.
This second example again highlights his ability to identify dangerous and open spaces to run into. In this instance, Zwolle find themselves in a three-on-two situation against the Feyenoord defence – one defender tracking and marking Thy, with the remaining defender caught in two minds: close down the man on the ball and free up space for Thy’s teammate (highlighted in yellow) to run into, or mark him, giving the man on the ball time and space on the wing to progress the attack. For a distance, Thy just occupies his marker, jogging inside towards the same channel as the man in possession, but immediately alters both his direction and speed to burst around the back of the defender, presenting the chance for his teammate to make a similar run in a more central position. This type of movement from Thy shows his awareness and understanding – again no delivery was ever made in the end; perhaps something which will change once he plies his trade for a team higher up the table.
Not only does Lennart Thy offer something with his movement, but he can be effective on the ball too. Using his awareness and knowledge, he can use close control and agile movements to progress attacks and find the next player.
This analysis is an example of Thy dropping deeper than usual, to receive a pass from a teammate to link the attack up between himself and midfield. He smartly gets his boy in front of the opposition defender, using his strength to retain the ball at all times. In this instance, Thy receives the ball on the turn, leaving the opponent with no chance of stopping the German. As Thy nears the end of the turn, he spots the inwards run of his teammate and opts to play incisive into his path, giving Zwolle a better chance at creating a goal-scoring opportunity. This side of his game is vital – whether he’s playing for Zwolle or Rotterdam, there will be games where running in behind the defenders into space won’t be a beneficial option, but a waste of energy. Dropping into this type of zone to get involved with play is an alternative method of building the attack when the opposition are well organised at the back. For this to be possible, Lennart needs to utilise his impressive close control, agility, vision, and awareness to not only receive the ball but to perform the next action.
In this analysis, we see more evidence of Lennart Thy’s dribbling capabilities. After receiving the pass from the right, the opposition close in on him, giving him very little room to work with. Instead of reacting negatively and attempting a pass or shot out of panic, he performs some close-control dribbling along the edge of the box. It appears in the footage that he does this to wait for attacking reinforcements to aid the attack. However, possibly due to being 2-1 up at the time, Zwolle opt now to commit too many players forward, giving Thy very little to work with. After keeping the ball impressively against numerous challenges, Thy creates a little pocket of space to unleash a testing shot for the opposition goalkeeper. While this motion did not lead to a goal, Thy showcased his technical talent on the ball, and displayed that he realises when to release the ball and take a chance on goal – the best strikers around the globe are partly successful for the risks they take and not being predictable or safe constantly.
Regardless of what a striker offers in other departments of the game, ultimately, they must provide goals for their team – that’s the primary focus. Sure, many goals may come as a result of those other skills (movement, dribbling etc), but it’s what the striker does to finish off an attack that matters the most.
In the first analysis of Thy’s goal-scoring assets, he is tasked with reacting to a loose ball following a dangerous cross. With his back to goal, the ball in the air, and defender both in front and behind the striker, you’d be forgiven for assuming he loses this battle. However, he reacts quickly and smartly, controlling the ball – turning with it to face the goal side on, settling the ball on the ground. As he gets into a good position, without hesitation he unleashes a powerful low driven shot into the corner, past the goalkeeper. These actions are those of a natural goal scorer, and if he can provide his new club Sparta Rotterdam with such services regularly through next season, they stand a strong chance with improving on their 2019/20 finish of 11th place. This goal from Thy comes as a result of his good reactions and smart control, allowing himself the space to pick out the correct shot on goal.
This analysis is another example of what Lennart Thy has to offer in dangerous attacking situations. The first thing that he realises, which works in his benefit, is the size of the gap between the Sparta Rotterdam left-back and centre-back. Rotterdam’s defensive set-up, in this instance, is compact and narrow, but disorganised. The gap between the two mentioned defenders gives Thy a chance to get between them, with neither defender seemingly committed to tracking nor marking the German. With the run timed well, and the pass into Thy hit with good pace and direction, the striker’s first touch is pivotal for this move. Taking the ball on with his right foot, Thy touches the ball about half a yard ahead of him whilst keeping it away from the defenders. Similar to the first goal we analysed, Thy showed no hesitation in striking the ball, smashing the ball past the keeper with his left foot. When looking at both of these goals, it is noteworthy that he is capable of scoring with either foot, a promising sign of an efficient striker.
To assess his 2019/20 performance within the context of Sparta Rotterdam, we will now analyse the relevant statistics of Thy, alongside current Sparta striker Ragnar Ache, and the now-departed Halil Dervisoglu. This analysis will highlight the value that Thy may or may not add to the firepower of Rotterdam. This section of the scout report will now consist of a series of charts and graphs with analysis provided.
This graph shows their direct involvement in goals. As you can see, new signing Lennart Thy racked up more goals in the 2019/20 league season, but Ache and Dervisoglu accumulated more assists – numbers within both stats are very close, however. This suggests that Rotterdam brought in a striker who fits their current ability level while adding more offensive options, but while also sticking to their restricted transfer budget. The next few charts and graphs will dive deeper, uncovering the stats behind the goals.
In this set of data, we may be seeing Thy’s experience prevailing, as he has a much higher rate of shots on target in comparison to Ache and Dervisoglu. This superior stat suggests that he doesn’t rush his shots or just take shots on goal out of desperation, but that he times them well and strikes them accurately. His goal conversion rate is second out of the three, which could be a combination of his technical limitations, and the quality of players around him at Zwolle which is, with all due respect, slightly lower than that or Rotterdam.
In the graph above, we can take a closer look at the strikers’ work when their sides have been out of possession. While it’s important to consider the difference in the styles of play between Zwolle and Sparta Rotterdam which could impact the amount of work required off the ball, Thy still boasts impressive stats in winning the ball back that will let him fit in with his new club easier than if his work rate was lower. Thy’s height and physical traits will be beneficial to Rotterdam if he can contribute to recoveries the way he did for Zwolle.
This graph compares the number of total dribbles attempted against the percentage rating of attempted dribbles that resulted in the players’ team keeping possession. It is clear that Brentford’s new signing Dervisoglu is a keen and talented dribbler, with over 100 dribbles through the season, completing an impressive number of them. While Lennart Thy’s stats aren’t terrible, his stats overall suffer in comparison to Ache’s numbers. This highlights the difference in individual playing styles between the two. While we have seen the good ball control of Thy, purely dribbling to beat players isn’t his strongest asset – he offers a different method of attack for Rotterdam.
With the departure of Halil Dervisoglu, Sparta Rotterdam appear to have found a sound striker to add to their squad who offers all-round ability for the level they are playing at. He will more than likely think Rotterdam’s style of play is more suited for him and will hope to reach double figures in scoring next season. His close control combined with clinical finishing is something that Rotterdam will look to incorporate into their playing system to provide him with more goal-scoring opportunities. His experience in the Eredivisie will also be beneficial to Rotterdam, especially to their younger players.