Róbert Boženík is now in his second season for ‘As Panteras’, but can the Slovakian international reach new heights in Portugal and help Boavista improve on last year’s 9th place finish?
In July 2023, Primeira Liga club Boavista announced the signing of Feyenoord forward Róbert Boženík on a permanent deal for a reported €2,500,000 after spending the 22/23 season on loan at the club and producing 5 goals in 22 appearances under the management of journeyman coach Petit.
Just 12 games into the new Primeira Liga season, Boženík finally looks to be hitting his stride, contributing to 8 goals and exceeding the 5 goal contributions managed in 23 league appearances for Boavista during last season’s loan spell. He scored the equalizer as Boavista drew 2-2 to Arouca, only to lose on penalties and exit the Taça de Portugal, before falling to a 4-0 defeat at Arouca in the league. The Axadrezados will be looking to end a run of four straight league defeats and pick up their first win since September 18 as they travel to Estrela da Amadora on Sunday.
Can the former MŠK Žilina prospect finally hit the heights he looked capable of during his breakout Niké Liga season back in 18/19 where he put up his best goal-scoring numbers to date with 13 league goals in 32 games for The Yellow-Greens at just 17 years old. But what makes Róbert Boženík such an interesting prospect? Let’s look at his underlying numbers and find out:
Player Profile – Róbert Boženík
Date of birth: 18.11.1999
Preferred foot: Right
Throughout the majority of his career, Boženík has been utilised as a lone striker, most frequently in a traditional 4-3-3, however, during his loan spell at Fortuna Dusseldorf, Boženík found himself often playing on the left side of a front two in a less conventional 4-4-2 utilising a double six.
This 4-4-2 proved ineffective for Boženík who was a bit part player in Germany putting up just 24 minutes per game whilst on loan at Die Flingeraner and putting up a disappointing two-goal contributions across 20 appearances in the Zweite Bundesliga. At Boavista, however, Boženík’s season appears to be defined by two formations. At the start of the 23/24 season, Boavista lined up with Boženík the lone striker in a 4-1-4-1 with Tiago Morais (20) and Salvador Agra (31) playing on the wings on either side of the four.
(The 4-1-4-1 utilised by Boavista during their 3-2 win over Benfica.)
Whilst utilising this flat 4-1-4-1 set up Petit’s men took 10 points out of a potential 12, scoring 10 and conceding just 5. During this time Boženík put up 4 goal contributions (3 goals and 1 assist) in just four games whilst also accumulating 17 shots and 2.55xG – 4.25 and 0.63 per 90 respectively. However, following Boavista’s 2-1 win over Vasco Seabra’s Estoril Praia, Petit switched from a deep 4-1-4-1 with Boženík sitting just beyond the halfway line and Gaius Makouta and Salvador Agra joining the Slovakian in more advanced positions to a 4-3-3 leaving Boženík far more isolated.
This shift can be best illustrated by looking at Boavista’s 1-1 draw away at Moreirense. With Tiago Morais suspended following suspension during Boavista’s 2-2 draw at home to Famalicão, Gaius Makouta found himself playing out on the left a position completely unnatural to the central midfielder. The tactical shift, alongside the inclusion of Makouta out wide left Boženík incredibly isolated and reliant on an individual moment of technical brilliance to create chances for himself – something that the former MŠK Žilina forward struggles with.
(Boavista’s average position during their 1-1 draw against Moreirense.)
The graphic above shows Boavista’s average position during their 1-1 draw away at Moreirense, what we begin to see is one of the primary reasons behind Boženík’s drop-off in form in the past few games – a lack of support and mismatched skill set for the tactical style. With only Lourenco and Boženík maintaining an average position in the opposition half and both Onyemaechi and Agra maintaining deeper positions at wing-back Boženík was provided with a poorer quality of service than in the opening games of the season.
The four starting wide players (Onyemaechi, Agra, Makouta and Lourenco) provided a combined 3 accurate crosses from 9 attempts and provided just 5 successful long balls out of 18 attempted during Boavista’s trip to the Parque Moreira de Cónegos. This resulted in a disappointing runout for Boženík accumulating just 19 touches in 88 minutes, a 25.49% decrease on his season average this far.
The lack of service and isolation up front has led to a frustrating run of fixtures for Boženík with the Slovakian blanking in his last five league appearances leading up to the loss to Farense when he broke the duck, accumulating just 0.34xG/90 in the process from 13 shots (2.6/90) with only 4 (0.8/90) finding their way on target. Compare this with the 25 shots (5/90) taken by Boženík during Boavista’s opening five fixtures from 27 touches per 90 and the negative impact of Petit’s tactical shift can be clearly seen.
Róbert Boženík – Underlying Numbers
So we have taken a little look at Boženík’s underlying numbers but how does he compare with the rest of the Primeira Liga this season so far?
- Boženík currently sits as the league’s joint-5th top scorer with 6 goals alongside Paulinho (6) and second only to Ricardo Horta (7), Hector Hernandez (8), Viktor Gyökeres (9) and Simon Banza (11). However only Simon Banza of Braga (5.3) is outperforming Boženík’s npxG output of 5.2.
- With 0.77 goal contributions per 90, Boženík ranks 18th in the league this season, however, removing penalty goal contributions [npGC/90] sees the 24-year-old rise to 14th in the league.
- In the league, Boženík is producing 3.8 shots per 90, level with Benfica’s Ángel Di María atop the league’s charts, whilst his 1.3 shots on target per game is bettered only by Horta (1.4), Banza (1.4) and Gyökeres (1.5)
- With an xG per shot of 0.15 Boženík is the second most efficient shooter in the Primeira Liga this season behind Braga’s Simon Banza with 0.25 xG per shot. (Note: ‘Shooting efficiency’ in this context refers to the average xG per shot of players who rank within the top ten of the league for shot volume per 90.)
- The previously highlighted lack of service and isolation impacting Boženík alongside his below-average dribbling capabilities can once again be seen with the Slovakian ranking 36th in the league for touches in the penalty area per 90 with just 3.44. Braga’s Rony Lopes ranks top in this metric with 7.58 touches per 90.
- Digging a little deeper we can see that Boženík is receiving just 7.68 passes per 90 which ranks 80th in the league for attacking players (Benfica’s João Mário ranks top with 41.62) alongside this he is receiving just 1.5 long passes per 90 ranking 37th in the league for attacking players in this metric (Estrela’s Kikas ranks top with 3.15/90). (Note: ‘Attacking players’ are classed as forwards, wing-forwards, and attacking midfielders with more than 90 minutes in the Primeira Liga in 2023/24.)
- On the ball, Boženík’s data is much less impressive, he ranks 79th for attacking players for passes per 90 with 11.21 only 8.4/90 of which are accurate passes. Dribbling, as previously flagged, is not an area of strength for Boženík with him putting up just 1.5/90 (with only 0.61 successful dribbles per 90) ranking 78th in the league for attacking players.
- Over the past calendar year, Boženík has produced 83 shots with a goal conversion rate of 14.5%, this rises to 16.9% for shots inside the penalty area. The majority of these shots (67.47%) were right-footed efforts with 16.87% being left-footed shots and the remaining 15.66% coming from headed attempts on goal.
The image below (courtesy of Wyscout) illustrates Boženík’s shot map for the last calendar year. What we can see is a significant drop off in shot volume and quality when Boženík is forced onto his weaker left foot, something that has been utilised by opposition defences on several occasions to contain the forward.
(Robert Boženík’s ‘Shot Map’ for the 2023 calendar year.)
Robert Boženík – Final Assessment
- Close Range Finishing – As highlighted previously the overwhelming majority of Boženík’s output comes from inside the penalty box but this doesn’t make all his goals simple tap-ins. Boženík possesses a fantastic ability to finish from tight angles, drifting through defenders and sending his shots between the keeper and the post.
The clip below from Boavista’s 3-1 Taça de Portugal win over Oliveirense highlights Boženík’s off-the-ball movement (more on that below) and his finishing ability/willingness to shoot in tight angles.
- Off The Ball Movement – As detailed previously, one of Boženík’s biggest issues this season is his isolation at points due to a combination of poor service and poor ball progression capabilities. Therefore, he relies on his ability to split defences to create opportunities for service in tight areas and to create clear goal-scoring opportunities for himself. Most recently Boženík was able to use this movement to get on the end of a Hancko cross for the Slovakian national team during their 2-1 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Euro 2024 Qualifiers.
The clip below, from Boavista’s 2-0 loss to Sporting CP at the end of October, highlights this off-the-ball movement as Boženík is able to split the Sporting back line to open up a one-on-one opportunity with Antonio Adán only to be led down by a poor weak footed effort.
- 1-on-1 Dribbling – With space in front of him and time to find his stride Boženík can at times be effective with the ball at his feet, however put a defender in front of him and things get a bit trickier. Despite a decent first touch, Boženík’s ball control and decision-making in tight 1-on-1 scenarios is sub-par with the Slovakian international often choosing the just run at them approach. His ability to burst onto the end of through balls would be enhanced significantly if he also possessed a greater ability to take on a man in wider areas allowing himself to move into space in his preferred central striking position. As discussed earlier, compared with other attackers this season in Portugal’s top flight, Boženík profiles poorly with just 1.5 dribbles attempted per 90 and 0.61 executed successfully.
- Press Resistance – Press resistance across the park is becoming more and more important in the modern game, managers are looking for players across the XI with the ability to retain the ball under pressure and make smart, quick decisions. This is an area that Boženík could seek to improve on, as a lone striker Boženík is often quickly marked upon receiving the ball in build up and although he regularly makes fast split-second decisions, they are very rarely the correct one. In more advanced positions Boženík will often return to a swinging shot with his back to the goal and deeper in build up he will often make a panicked pass leading to a turnover of possession. This leads to the the striker losing possession around 9 times per 90 with 46% of these turnovers being in the central area of the pitch leading to attacking opportunities in dangerous areas.
Before I advance with this final section, it is only fair that I credit Target Scouting for this scouting report grading system. Please check them out and support the awesome work they do at targetscouting.com. At the end of each player review, I will be giving a final grade on a scale of A1 to D – in order to give a consistent and clear final review of how I see Boženík as a player now and where he could potentially end up.
The scale is as follows:
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at this level
- B2 – Potential to be a strong player at this level
- C – Average for the level
- D – Below average for the level
Robert Boženík Final Grade – B2
Robert Boženík possesses key attributes and natural talents that could enable him to excel in the Primeira Liga, his inclination to shoot and finishing ability would benefit massively from a more attacking set-up, potentially one including a fast-paced attacking midfielder in behind or more advanced wingers, or from playing in a side with greater attacking output.
He is similar in many ways to Lawrence Shankland of Hearts, strong work rate, great finishing ability and a willingness to drop deep but issues in his on-the-ball ability and in the support around him are limiting his success. I could foresee Boženík finishing this season on 15-18 goals for Boavista which would be the best league output of his career and could possibly see him make a quick move to a stronger Primeira Liga club or potentially to someone like a PSV who could look to use Boženík to prepare for replacing Luuk De Jong who will be both 34 and in the final year of his contract by the start of the 2024-2025 season.
By: Liam Stewart / @LiamAStewart
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Diogo Cardoso / Getty Images