Europe’s most effective striker: Moa Abdellaoue

Forget Rooney and Ibrahimovic, the most dangerous player in front of goal is Moa Abdellaoue.

Hannover’s star striker Abdellaoue has had 16 shots so far this season, and put 10 of them on target, scoring a total of 8 goals. A conversion rate of 50% is unique, considering that players like Rooney, Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo have struggled to get over 20% this season. Real Madrid’s striker Gonzalo Higuian is close to Abdelloue’s covertion rate: He has scored 11 goals form 25 shots. Newcastle’s Demba Ba had converted 47% of his shots after the 10th round of action in the Premiership.

The strikers closest to the Norwegian’s conversion rate in the Bundesliga are Lukas Podolski (32.1%) and Mario Gomez (29.5%).

Abdellaoue has 18 goals in his 35 Bundesliga appearances.

Why is the Moa that effective?

It is almost as if  Moa was born in the net but we have no way to prove that for now so let’s take a more pragmatic approach.  Going a little bit deeper into the numbers we find out that six of his goals were scored with his left foot, one with his right foot and one with his head. Three of his eight goals have come from the penalty spot. Moa has been playing for 707 minutes so far this season, meaning that the Norwegian scores a goal every 88.4 minutes on average. The 26-year-old from Oslo has had 162 ball contacts so far this season, translating into 1 goal for roughly every 20th touch of the ball.

These numbers do not necessarily translate to Abdelloue being a better player than Rooney or Ronaldo; he is not, but they do give an indication of how Mirko Slomka’s system works, and how he fits into that system.

1. Hard work

Slomka’s system emphasises that football is a team sport. Although it is often said that Hannover does do a lot of running, but the statistics from would suggest something else. Their opponents have outran them 8 times so far this season, only against Nürnberg, Bremen, Bayern and Augsburg did Slomka’s men do most of the running. In two of the games the opposition had a play sent off.

However, the defensive structure is what is most important in Slomka’s set up. Hannover do work hard in their own half, minimizing their running effort, leaving the opponents most of the possession.

2. Counter attacks

The 10 second counter attack is what Hannover have perfected over the course of the last year and a half. The ball is snapped up in defense, distributed out wide, often by Pinto or Schmiedebach, and then brought into the box with the fewest touches possible.  This has also made them one of the most efficient crossing teams in the league considering that every pass and cross needs to be accurate to carry out their counter attacks.

3. Moa’s role in the system

The Norwegian is an out-and-out striker in Slomka’s system. He rarely participates in the build-up, unlike his partners Jan Schlaudraff and Didier Ya Konan, hence the low amount of ball contacts so far this season. His main task is to time his runs into the penalty area, and get his foot at the end of an attack, a classical poacher. Most of the Norwegians goals come from within the 16 yard box.  It does put the bulk of the goal scoring on Abdellaoue but it does facilitate the sort of efficacy that Hannover have become known for under Slomka.

Moa’s doppelgänger

And there might be more good news for fans of the 96’ers, and dreadful news for commentators all around the world. Hannover’s sporting director Jörg Schmadtke confirmed that Hannover are currently scouting Moa’s brother, Mos. The two brothers look almost identical, but are somewhat different types of players. The pair played together up top for Skeid and Vålerenga in Norway, and build a good partnership back in those days according to Moa Abdellaoue himself. Mos Abdellaoue managed to score 13 goals in 27 matches in this year’s Tippeliga season, not a bad return for a striker by any means.

Images courtesy of and

The stats about the conversion rate were taken from this article in the Norwegian newspaper VG.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 30-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball and on the @AufstiegPod.

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