FC Köln are currently in 10th place in the Bundesliga and look certain to stay in the league after being promoted from the 2. Bundesliga last season. This certainty has not been there for most of the season though, with Achim Beierlorzer getting sacked in November after leaving the club loitering in the relegation zone. Since that moment, new manager Markus Gisdol has managed to steer the club out of the relegation battle and into mid-table. The side has only lost five games since the new manager has come in; with two of them being against Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
Sebastiaan Bornauw has been an important piece of FC Köln’s side, with 21 Bundesliga starts. He is only 21-years-old but already looks a solid outfit in his first season in Germany after joining from Anderlecht last summer.
This tactical analysis in the form of a scout report will be assessing Bornauw’s performance in his first campaign in the Bundesliga. It will include analysis which will show both the strengths he has in his arsenal but also the weaknesses, while also considering the tactics implemented at FC Köln by Gisdol in Bornauw’s performance.
Tendencies in defence
Bornauw is a very active defender who often looks to rob the ball when it is played into the forwards; his strength and ability to read the play help him do this. He averages 6.76 defensive duals per 90 with a respectable 62.3% success rate while also yielding 5.14 interceptions per 90, showing he can pressure oppositions and read their movement and attacking play well and help win the ball for his team or stop a dangerous attack.
Shown above is a clear example of this where Bornauw steps out of his defensive line because he reads the pass from the midfielder into the striker’s feet. Bornauw’s quick reaction to this means he can tackle the player as soon as the ball reaches him; not allowing him to even set himself.
Again, the image above shows the tightness to the forward that Bornauw likes to have; understandable with his large frame. He gets tight to the opposition striker and doesn’t allow him to turn, intercepting the ball in the process.
Although, while Bornauw makes many interceptions and tackles, there is much to be desired in his ball-playing ability once he has made an interception; adding better composure once he has beaten his man in a dual would take his game to a higher level. His poor composure which has led to an average forward passing accuracy of only 76.5% is shown below.
The image is following where Bornauw made the interception in the previous image; he has driven forward with the ball and looks to pass to Jhon Córdoba in the centre; although this pass would need to be perfect as the opposition midfielder is ready to cover the passing lane. The pass is not successful and the opposition retrieves possession of the ball. Laying the ball off to either of his teammates on the right side would’ve been a safe and better decision for the centre-back in this situation.
While his main defensive tendency is to get tight to his man, he can also defend his box well while under pressure from the other team.
This image above shows how the defenders can manage situations when the opposition is attacking his penalty area. Bornauw reads the pass across the box and manages to block it, stopping a certain goal.
The well-roundedness of Bornauw’s defensive style is impressive. He does not rely on his ability to intercept the ball before the opposition reach the penalty area, as he can also read the play in his own box quite well.
As just mentioned, Bornauw’s forward passing statistics suggest as a whole he cannot play out from the back, however, we also have to take into consideration the tactics that are implemented at FC Köln by Gisdol.
FC Köln averages the third-highest long balls per 90 in the Bundesliga with 51.13, this is one of the main ways of transition for the side. Ultimately, these tactics lead to the defenders having a lower passing accuracy due to the long balls they attempt. Bornauw attempts 8.38 long passes per 90 which helps explain why his forward passing accuracy is not the highest.
However, Bornauw does have good vision in his forward passes and often looks to play these passes, he passes forward an average of 18.39 times per game, which is 41% of his average passes per 90.
Above is an example of the kind of passes Bornauw can find. He has the vision and quality to be able to break the opposition midfield line by playing to his right-back who has stepped into a higher position.
The defender definitely can play passes through the lines but needs to increase his consistency in these passes.
Bornauw is also clearly astute in his long passes, as it is an important asset for Gisdol’s centre-backs to have; he possesses a solid accuracy of 57.1% in his long passes. He will often play long passes into the wide areas or beyond the opposition defence but also tends to loft the ball into the striker for him to control and bring others into play.
The image above shows Bornuaw playing a lofted pass into the striker, Córdoba. Through playing this kind of pass, the team have the chance to progress the ball quickly; with Córdoba potentially flicking the ball onto a winger or oncoming midfielder. This is made easier through Bornauw’s lofted technique; as it is not too powerful and is often more accurate.
This time, the above image is an example of Bornauw’s long passes he plays to the flanks. He is able to switch the play from right to left, playing the ball perfectly so that the left-back can take it in his stride. Considering that Gisdol’s other main tactical approach in attacking transition is to play through the wide areas; being able to quickly switch the play like above makes it a great asset to have for his centre-backs.
This image shows how Bornauw can unlock the opposition defence with a long pass. While the opposition is playing a high defensive line; Bornauw finds the right-winger with a long pass over the top of the defensive, leaving him running at the goalkeeper. Although the chance was squandered, the quality of the long pass cannot be denied.
Bornauw is a solid passer of the ball. The tactics implemented at FC Köln mean that the majority of his forward play come from long passes but he also has good vision and if he can manage to increase his quality in completing these passes more often, he could have another arrow to his bow.
A threat in both boxes
While being solid in his defensive third, one aspect that has been clear to see in Bornauw’s game this season is his threat in the opposition box too. His dangerous aerial ability, with a 67.9% success rate this season, has helped him to five Bundesliga goals. This is the second most in the FC Köln squad.
It is one thing winning the headers but Bornauw is able to direct them well into the corner, making it much more difficult for the keeper.
The image above shows a clear example of Bornauw’s ability in the opposition’s box with his goal against Schalke. Firstly, Bornauw’s quick acceleration allows him to get ahead of his marker. Then he gains a further advantage against his marker through his great leap; meaning that even though his marker has managed to track his run, they cannot win the header. He then also has the quality at the end to be able to guide the ball into the corner.
His acceleration off the mark, mixed with his strength and solid leap allows Bornauw to win many of his match-ups against opposition defenders in the box.
Considering FC Köln do not have many high scoring goalscorers, having Bornauw who has proved his worth in the opposition box has been a positive for the side.
The defender has areas in his positional play where he can improve. Although his tendencies in defence are an asset to the defender; he also needs to realise when to pressure and when to position himself well as he is not the fastest defender.
The image above shows how the tendencies that Bornauw has to get tight to his man can sometimes backfire. He predicts that the ball will be played into the striker so he gets very tight, however, the ball is played in behind and the striker manages to turn Bornauw and run into space behind. If Bornauw can manage to read this kind of play and position himself better he could be a more well-rounded defender.
Bornauw’s positioning could also improve when crosses are coming into the box, although he is good in the air; sometimes he will be positioned poorly and not be close enough to his man in the box, limiting the usefulness of his aerial ability in his own box.
In this image above Bornauw steps away from his marker. This means that the striker has space and is on the blindside of Bornauw, making it much harder for the centre-back to track his movement. This led to the striker getting a free header in the box due to the space he had being on the blindside of Bornauw.
His aerial ability is impressive but he needs to ensure he is always in the best position so that his ability is not rendered useless when up against a striker with good movement in the box.
This tactical analysis scout report of Sebastiaan Bornauw has shown that while there are areas of improvement for the player; he is only 21-years-old and playing his first season in the Bundesliga and has many strengths to his game.
The Belgian U21 international has all of the tools to become a top-class defender. He has played a direct style this year under the tactics of Markus Gisdol; it will be interesting to see how the centre-backs game will evolve in the coming seasons.