Apollon Limassol have just completed the signing of Dutch-Curaçaoan forward Charlison Benschop.
Benschop has signed a year and a half long contract with the Cypriot club, with the deal ending in 2021. His jersey number will be 35.
The forward has featured for a variety of noteworthy clubs across the Netherlands and Germany, specifically in the Eredivisie, Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 (the second tier of German professional football).
Most notably, he played for Dutch sides AZ Alkmaar, RKC, De Graafschap and FC Groningen, as well as for German sides Hannover 96, Fortuna Düsseldorf and FC Ingolstadt.
Though born in the Netherlands, he featured internationally for the Curaçao national football team, for which he qualified on account of his ancestry.
Natural position, physique and preferred foot
Charlison Benschop is 1.91 (6’3”) and weighs approximately 90kg. Suffice to say he is a player of considerable stature and physical presence on the pitch. His natural and preferred foot is his right one.
Benschop is a forward, although he is not averse to coming deep to receive the ball, with his general heat map showing that he likes to occupy the space usually reserved for a central attacking midfielder.
His physical attributes and positional tendencies allow him to either engage in interplay before making a run into the box or hold up the ball to release an oncoming teammate.
You can see his overall heatmaps below:
Most Productive Period
Benschop’s most productive stint was at Fortuna Düsseldorf, where he spent two seasons and managed to score 25 goals in 58 appearances. This was between 2013 and 2015.
More recently, he registered the following numbers:
2015 – 2016 season – Hannover 96
1 goal in league match 382 minutes played
2018 – 2019 – First half of the season – Ingolstadt
1 goal in 399 league and cup minutes (mixed)
2018- 2019 – Second half the season – De Graafschap
5 goals and 1 assist in 1301 league match minutes
2019 – 2020 – First half of the season – FC Groningen
3 goals and 1 assist in 941 league match minutes
In Focus: Charlison Benschop’s time at Groningen
We already mentioned that during his short spell at Groningen, Charlison Benschop scored three times and registered one assist. Now let’s look a little deeper into his most recent performances.
His xG figure (expected goals) was 3.15. Meaning that his 3 goals scored are aligned with the expectations of the opportunities presented to him.
He registered 17 shots in total with 41.2% being on target.
His passing accuracy was 67.3% out of a total of 153 passes. While this is not particularly high, it does reflect the congested area a forward occupies, as well as the ambitious nature of the passes attempted once a player is inside or near the penalty area.
The same reasoning applies when we consider the passing accuracy of center backs and why it’s usually so high: they register a large volume of short, lateral, safe passes.
His dribbling success rate was 22.2 out of a small sample size of 18 attempted dribbles.
Aggression and Pressing example
The following example is from a game for Groningen against Emmen which took place in December of 2019.
The player finds himself on the far right side of the pitch, with the opponent directly in front of him in possession. Naturally, he tries to press the player closest to him, knowing that his teammate to the left has the other opponent covered.
The opponent, reacting to the situation, passes back to the goalkeeper, instead of attempting a forward pass.
Benschop continues his press towards the box and approaches the goalkeeper. This narrows the possible short passing options for the goalkeeper to 3 medium-to-high risk options.
Even if the goalkeeper makes the first pass, the forward’s aggressive pressing allows for the team’s second pressing triggers to be activated.
The goalkeeper has successfully passed to the player in the middle coming deep to ask for the ball. However, the receiving player has immediately been closed down by a third opposition player.
This again forces the player to pass back to the left-back.
The left-back now has very limited passing options as his nearest teammate is blocked, and two players are quickly running towards him, forcing him to consider a long pass which has a lower success rate.
Predatory Instinct and Penalty Area Movement example
This example is taken from a game against RKC in October of 2019.
After an organized attack fails and the ball is headed away by a defender, possession is regained by Groningen and the second wave of attack begins, on the inside right of the attacking team.
RKC’s left-back pushes up to close down the player in possession.
While Benschop is asking for the ball behind the left-back, his teammate decides against this pass.
Instead of going for the quick pass into space, the Groningen player holds the ball for a few seconds, before performing a faint towards the right, feigning a run on the outside right-hand side.
At the same time, Benschop is occupying one of the center backs, literally pressing against him.
The second center back is staying near his partner, while also anticipating the possibility of the left-back being beaten by his man.
Finally, the two RKC players ahead of the defense both have their eyes towards the man in possession.
All of this allows the Groningen player at the edge of the box to make an unchecked run into the box.
The player has now passed laterally to his teammate who has just stepped inside the penalty area.
This draws the opposition’s attention towards the middle and the right-winger now has an uninterrupted run on the right-hand side.
Benschop is still occupying the center backs with his positioning and ability to play with his back towards the goal.
The receiving player makes two quick steps forward before giving the ball back to his teammate who is now free on the right side of RKC’s penalty area.
At this point in time, the ball is half a second away from reaching the right-winger and Benschop is exactly aligned with the nearest center back.
However, he very quickly reads the phase of play and understands what is likely to happen and where he needs to be.
Benschop has made a run towards the near post and moved ahead of his marker.
Benschop has now moved firmly ahead of the opponent and performs a first-time right-footed finish which beats the goalkeeper at the near post.