clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Video Analysis: Can Stian Gregersen fill the void left by Miles Robinson?

How much of an impact can the Norwegian international make in Atlanta?

FBL-FRA-LIGUE 1-BORDEAUX-METZ Photo by ROMAIN PERROCHEAU/AFP via Getty Images

Last week, Atlanta United announced the official signing of center-back Stian Gregersen from French Ligue 2 club FC Girondins Bordeaux. Gregersen has made 75 appearances for Bordeaux since he joined in 2021, appearing as a regular starter. He has also made 4 appearances for the Norwegian National Team. There are few highlights available of him that only total up to a few minutes long. But, with the information available, here is a tactical analysis on the man pinned to be Atlanta United’s Miles Robinson replacement.

First Impressions:

Gregersen is a very physically imposing player, standing at 6’4”. With his size and strength comes strong tackles (he completes 2.05 tackles and 1.60 interceptions per 90, averaging in the 90th and 78th percentile of center backs, respectively) and a great ability in the air, his first highlight in video one being a fantastic diving header, along with good clearances and passing ability with his head from 1:38-1:46 in video 2. However, his real strengths were summed up by Carlos Bocanegra, who said:

“Stian has been a consistent performer across multiple leagues and is comfortable defending with space behind him, as well as in an organized block. He is someone who reads the game well, has a presence, and helps command the back line through organization and leadership. We are excited for him to join Atlanta United and bolster our defense.”

What needs to be focused on first is defending with space behind him. This means being able to defend when the opponents are on the counter-attack. Gregersen is extremely quick and is always able to get himself in front of his opponent and make a challenge, no matter his starting position. Plays where he does this make up the majority of his highlights in the first video, from 0:12-0:48. He is able to drop back and hold a good position, backpedaling sideways on. He then turns to run and meets his opponent by their side. When he gets a slight advantage in the foot race, he dives in at a diagonal angle, usually with a slide tackle, and wins the ball in front of the opponent, taking away the risk of a foul from behind. This skill set is extremely valuable for an Atlanta team who have given away plenty of goals under Pineda because our center-backs could not position themselves well enough to meet the ball and stop the counter.

Gregersen being able to play in a block is also extremely valuable, as that is how Atlanta sets up when an opponent is trying to transition from the middle to final third. The reason he is so efficient in the block is due to his body positioning, especially in 1v1 situations. If he hasn’t forced a defender outside to then poach the ball from in front of them (like how he defends the counter-attack), he keeps himself goal-side, facing the ball no matter which way the opponent goes, and steps in when they go for the shot or take a heavy touch. This can be seen throughout the videos, but mainly from 1:47-1:54 in the second video. His body positioning is also good when it just comes to getting in the way of shots, blocking multiple scoring opportunities inside the 18. Both of these skills help an Atlanta team who historically do not apply enough pressure at the edge of the 18, in 1v1s or just on shots in general. Sorry if you are getting 2019 Eastern Conference Finals flashbacks right now. Even since then, this has gotten worse under Pineda, so Gregersen’s help is needed.

Other Strengths:

Gregersen’s last main strength is how well he reads the game. He anticipates where a player is dribbling or where the ball is going, meets them, and then makes his challenge. He does this not only to catch up to attackers in 0:43 of the first video, he does it to meet an opponent right when they receive the ball or take a touch forward, like in 1:23 of the first video. What should be noted is how he positions himself to meet the ball or player after anticipating the play, whether it’s changing his run or side-stepping across a defender’s back. His strengths go hand-in-hand to make him an effective defender.

A minor strength seems to be his shooting ability. He scored a ridiculous volley in the second video and a great first-time finish in the first. He hits his shots with great pace and good placement.

Unknowns:

There is not enough tape to find out certain parts of Stian’s game. For example, we do not know if his passing ability is good enough for what Atlanta needs. There are no long passes over the top on tape and only a few short ones after winning the ball back. His stats say that he has a 88.1% pass completion percentage and averages 4 progressive passes per game, which seem positive. However, that’s not enough info to come to a conclusion.

Same with his dribbling ability, there are a few highlights of long and short runs with a good overlapping ability. The stats show him averaging 0.52 progressive carries per 90, ranking in the 50th percentile of centerbacks. Again, it’s just not enough to make a foregone conclusion.

Weaknesses:

It is also hard to determine weaknesses in his game with such limited tape. However, some easy assumptions can be made. First off, while his heading ability and threat on set pieces is great, he doesn’t seem to use his size to his full advantage when in the air. When he heads the ball, he is close to level with his opponent instead of being above them. His stats say that he wins 2.33 aerials per 90, only at the 52nd percentile of all centerbacks. That is low for such a tall defender. He also doesn’t seem to use his size when tackling. This isn’t always a bad thing, as he usually gets in front of the defender, but he never even puts in a shoulder-barge or bodies someone off the ball.

When he doesn’t get physical, that leaves the risk of getting beat out wide. There are times in the highlight reels where he reaches in for a tackle too late and just barely gets the ball. Do that normally and you’ve either fouled the opponent or completely missed him. However, his tackling statistics seem to contradict this view.

It seems that he decides to use his size and physicality when on an opponent’s back, which is usually the worst time to do so. When he doesn’t anticipate the opponent’s movement, he’ll try and win the ball straight from behind, which can very easily give up fouls if he put too much force into the tackle.

In anticipation of a play or when blocking a shot, Gregersen sometimes steps too early or very aggressively, which could lead to him getting beat easily or committing a foul.

The only other weakness I could find is his footwork in the attack, which is expected for a center-back. He only has 0.07 successful take-ons per 90 (winning a 1v1 when on the offensive), which is probably do to faulty footwork. His step-overs at 0:30 in the second video are hilarious!

Conclusion:

From the tape alone, Stian Gregersen looks like he will be able to fill the shoes of Miles Robinson. His efficient tackling when in unfavorable situations fills the void Robinson left, and his play-style fits Gonzalo Pineda’s tactics well. If he is as much of a leader as Bocanegra said he is, this looks to be a good, possibly great signing for Atlanta United, but not without a fair bit of risk.

How do you feel about Gregersen joining Atlanta United? Do you see him working well under Pineda? Let us know in the comments below.