Are Sheffield United’s sister side set to return to the Pro League?

Under Hernan Losada, the 2020/2021 Beerschot were one of the best teams to watch in Europe. They paid no attention to defending and just went for an all-out attack approach. This was epitomised by the role Losada gave to Raphael Holzhauser. The mercurial Austrian was given a free pass to do whatever he liked on the pitch, roaming around spraying passes to create opportunities for Tarik Tissoudali. The side were a top four candidate until both Losada and Tissoudali departed in January. The wheels then fell off in dramatic fashion.

The sides first mess up was not allowing Will Still to take over on a permanent basis at the end of the season. Instead they went for Peter Maes and experience, which was a complete disaster. Now, Still is a highly sought after head coach, while Beerschot are in the second season in the second tier of Belgium football. The 2021/2022 campaign was a disaster from start to finish, and relegation was of little surprise to anyone.

However, fast forward to 2023/2024, and the side linked through ownership to Sheffield United are on the comeback trail. They sit second in the Challenger Pro League, level on points with both Lommel in third and Zulte Waregem in first, two sides expected to fight for the top two and automatic promotion. However, the side from Antwerp have a game in hand against bottom ranked SL16.

Unlike the Losada side of yesteryear, this team has been built on a solid defence, but still capable of scoring goals. They lead the league with just nine goals conceded in their 10 games, while they have also scored 16, two more than Lommel. At the weekend they also exhibited their resilient side, playing 65 minutes with 10 men against Club Brugge NXT. Late goals from Simion Michez and Tom Reyners gave them a crucial 2-0 win.

Reyners is leading the side with goals this season, having grabbed four in 10 games after joining on a free from SK Beveren. He is being pursued by striker Ayouba Kosiah. The Liberian international has three goals in five games and looks a real bargain having been picked up after his contract with NAC Breda expired earlier this year. Thibaud Verlinden leads the sides in assists with four. At the back, the defence is being martialed by Greek U21 defender Apostolos Konstantopoulos. He was signed during their brief period in the Pro League and looks to be developing into a decent central defender.

Not many would have predicted that Beerschot would be able to mount a push for the top two, and they still may falter. However, they have shown, with wins over Lommel already, that they have the quality in the squad, its now just down to consistency. Austrian head coach Andreas Wieland will be hoping he will be the one to repeat the feat of Losada from three years ago.

GBeNeFN | Ben Jackson

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