Royal Antwerp FC – Match Report vs. Cercle Brugge (30/07/2023)

On their return to what is one of Europe’s most interesting leagues, the Belgian champions hosted young Cercle Brugge in a game that fell a little short of expectations. With constant ball losses and little clarity in the offensive manoeuvres of both teams, it was even a goal in Jesper Daland’s own net that ultimately decided the outcome. Still, there was room for Alhassan Yusuf to stand out in a positive way and hold his team together in the various moments of the game.


  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Alhassan Yusuf

  • Nationality: Nigerian
  • Age: 23
  • Date of Birth: 18/07/2000
  • Club: Royal Antwerp FC
  • Career: Tiki Taka Academy (Y), IFK Gothenburg and Royal Antwerp FC
  • Position: Defensive and Centre Midfielder
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Trained in his home country, Alhassan moved to Sweden when he came of age. Sustained growth at IFK Gothenburg eventually led him to the reigning Jupiler Pro League champions. Of medium height, with a morphologically mesomorphic profile and high agility and speed of movement, the young Nigerian was one of the best players on the pitch against Cercle Brugge, particularly for his ability to be everywhere.

Royal Antwerp FC began by dominating the game on the ball, and during those moments Alhassan Yusuf did not assume the obviousness he would come to assume. Mark van Bommel’s team played through the side corridors, and that hid the young midfielder from the game. In addition, Cercle Brugge’s individualized pressing meant that Alhassan found it difficult to emerge as a free man in the centre and to possess the ball frequently. However, when called upon, the young Nigerian have been able to deliver, especially through his inversions of play to activate the loose man in the lateral corridor opposite the one where the centre of the game was.

The second half would turn out to be a highlight for Alhassan Yusuf: Royal Antwerp FC’s inability to possess the ball meant that the centre midfielder ended up showing an absurd ability to be everywhere beaten duels and recovering the ball, which highlights the immensity of his range of action in the defensive moments of the game.

Heat map of Alhassan Yusuf vs. Cercle Brugge.
Heat map of Alhassan Yusuf vs. Cercle Brugge.

Yet despite his constant recoveries – three interceptions, six tackles, and eleven duels won in seventeen played – Yusuf was not always able to follow up on winning possession and this led to a high number of losses – Alhassan lost the ball twenty times.

Rating – A2

For the time being, due to Alhassan Yusuf’s difficulties with the ball, it is best to continue with the current set-up, as it will provide the young Nigerian with touches during the game. Once his offensive difficulties are overcome, I would not be surprised if Yusuf ends up leaping to a team of the competitive level of AS Monaco, for example. His physical availability and ability to recover in defensive moments, both in organisation and in transition, could catapult him to a proficient level once he adds quality to the ball.

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