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Introducing Beerschot, The Most Entertaining Team In Europe

 

Unbeknown to many, there is a new entertainer on the block in European football. Belgian Juplier Pro League newcomers Beerschot have played out some ridiculously high-scoring matches so far this season, including a 5-5 draw in their final match before the latest international break.

Damien Shernetsky takes a look at the numbers behind Beerschot’s astonishing start to 2020/21.

By: Damien Shernetsky

The Club

The city of Antwerp is best known for its diamonds or for having one of the most famous and largest ports in Europe, not really for its football clubs. However, one of these is now making a name for itself in European club football with some outrageously entertaining matches.

The Koninklijke Beerschot Voetbalclub Antwerpen, aka Beerschot (pronounced beːrsxɔt) have been making waves since the new Jupiler Pro League season began in August.

A 5-5 draw against Kortrijk just before the November international break (the highest scoring draw in Europe’s top 10 leagues this season) only further highlighted the crazy games involving the promoted side from Antwerp.

Beerschot Belgian Jupiler Pro League Results 2020/21:

DateOpponentScoreResult
August 10, 2020KV Oostende (A)2-1W
August 16, 2020SV Zulte Waregem (H)3-1W
August 23, 2020Club Brugge (A)1-0W
August 30, 2020Standard Liège (H)0-3L
September 14, 2020KRC Genk (H)5-2W
September 18, 2020Sporting de Charleroi (A)1-3L
September 26, 2020Waasland-Beveren (H)3-2W
October 4, 2020KAA Gent (A)1-5L
October 17, 2020Sint-Truidense VV (H)6-3W
October 25, 2020Royal Antwerp (A)2-3L
October 31, 2020Oud-Heverlee Leuven (H)4-2W
November 7, 2020KV Kortrijk (A)5-5D

Astonishingly, they have both the best attack and worst defence in the 2020/21 Jupiler Pro League – with 33 goals scored and 30 conceded, Beerschot’s 12 matches have produced 63 goals overall.

This is the highest tally across any of the top 10 ranked UEFA leagues (Belgium being ninth) and 20 goals ahead of next placed Arsenal Tula from the Russian Premier League (43 goals in 14 games).

Goals per game across Europe

Across these 10 leagues, the only team to witness a higher average total of goals per game in league competition are reigning Bundesliga Champions Bayern Munich, with their seven matches so far producing 38 goals at an average of 5.43 per game.

These stats are made more impressive as Beerschot were only promoted to the top-flight this season after a successful campaign in the second tier and last season hardly saw them labelled the entertainers.

In Period 2 of the D1B (Belgian’s Second Tier) – the second half of the season and the half that saw the club promoted – they had the sixth-most potent attack out of the eight sides (18 goals in 14 games) and the tightest defence (just nine goals conceded). Over the whole season of 28 matches, they scored 31 goals and conceded 28 to their opponents – astonishingly, they’ve already surpassed both those tallies in 2020/21 already (33 scored, 30 conceded).

The Coach

After a playing career that saw him play almost 200 times in the Pro League, 38-year-old Hernan Losada replaced Stijn Vreven as head coach at Beerschot in October 2019.

Following the 3-2 defeat against Royal Antwerp in the Antwerp derby at the end of October, Losada said:

“We want to win every game without parking the bus in front of our goal. Losing like [that] against Antwerp, I can live with it. It is part of the risk when you want to go forward.”

And risks, the 38-year-old Argentinian certainly likes to take. With these crazy numbers, one would expect to see the club at the top of all rankings, offensive as well as defensive. However, this is not the case.

Beerschot are not the side to have the most shots attempted overall or shots attempted on target (3rd), nor are they the ones who have faced the most shots (5th) and they do not they have the highest expected goals (xG) tally, either for or against (3rd both offensively and defensively).

The explanation for the club’s crazy numbers lies elsewhere, in their crazy offensive efficiency and their very porous defence. Thus, Beerschot are the Jupiler Pro League 2020/21 team that:

  • Have the most games with at least three goals scored (6)
  • Convert the highest percentage of shots (17.9%)
  • Have the highest differential of goals to expected goals (11.6, nearly double that of any other team)
  • Have the highest differential of goals conceded to expected goals against (7.4)
  • Have the lowest percentage of opposition shots saved (48.3%)

Raphael Holzhauser xA map

Click to enlarge

According to xG, the team is currently combining an offensive overperformance with a defensive underperformance, a situation that is difficult to sustain over a whole season.

Can we expect to see Beerschot’s crazy numbers normalise in the coming weeks? That will depend on individual performances: the defensive group will have to raise its level of play, and the offensive unit will have to come down from its cloud.

The Player

The star of the Beerschot show so far has undoubtedly been Raphael Holzhauser, a 27-year-old who arrived in Belgium last season after a career that’s seen him ply his trade in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

With nine goals and eight assists, he is currently the joint-top scorer (with Ebere Paul Onuachu) and assist provider (alongside Xavier Mercier) in the league. Six of his nine goals have come from open play, so even excluding penalties, the Austrian would still be tied at the top of the goalscoring charts in 2020/21 – and all this despite not being a striker.

 

Raphael Holzhauser xG map

His goals to xG differential indicates that he’s scored 3.8 goals more than the average player would have been expected to score from his chances, which is the best differential in the JPL this season.

Raphael Holzhauser xA map

The same goes for his assist to expected assist (xA) differential (+5.6), where he is also on top. This comes as little surprise considering that he has created the most chances (45) in the league.

These performances recently earned him his first call-up to the Austrian national team and if he maintains this level throughout the season, the Jupiler Pro League has uncovered one of the European revelations of the year.


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