Union Saint-Gilloise: Key players, form guide and other things to know about Liverpool’s opponents

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Two weeks after a first-ever meeting against LASK ended in victory, Liverpool meet another first-time opponent in the Europa League on Thursday night when they host Union Saint-Gilloise at Anfield.

The club from Brussels have had a remarkable rise. Just three seasons ago they were playing in the Belgian second tier, and they were in the third level of their domestic period as recently as 2015.

They topped the regular season table in their first year back in the top flight, ultimately finishing second, and were minutes away from becoming champions of Belgium last term until Toby Alderweireld’s last-gasp goal clinched glory for Royal Antwerp.

Despite their rapid ascent, many names within the Union SG squad might still be unfamiliar to fans on these shores, so we’ve highlighted some of the key players of whom Liverpool will need to be wary tomorrow night, along with some additional info on Alexander Blessin’s team.

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Key players for Union Saint-Gilloise

Mohammed Amoura

The Algerian attacker ended September in a rich vein of form with four goals in three games, netting in their 1-1 draw against Toulouse on matchday one and then putting Cercle Brugge and RWD Molenbeek to the sword in domestic action (Transfermarkt).

The 23-year-old wasn’t a regular starter at the outset of the campaign but has played his way into the team following his recent hot streak. Averaging 3.6 shots per game in the Jupiler Pro League (WhoScored), he’s certainly not afraid to have a pop at goal when the opportunity presents itself.

Cameron Puertas

The Spanish midfielder is Union’s creative hub, already plundering seven assists this season in addition to a couple of goals. He set up two of the three they netted against Charleroi at the weekend, with three assists in his last two matches (Transfermarkt).

The 25-year-old poses a significant threat in the final third, averaging 3.9 shots, 1.8 key passes and 1.2 crosses per game domestically (WhoScored). It’s almost inevitable that much of the Belgian side’s attacking play will go through him.

Ross Sykes

It might seem odd to cite the Burnley-born centre-back as a key player considering that he’s only played 88 minutes all season, but Liverpool would be negligent not to take note of his threat from set pieces, scoring twice from that scenario in last weekend’s 3-1 win over Charleroi (Transfermarkt).

The 24-year-old former Accrington Stanley defender has wasted little time in making an impact since returning from a knee injury last month, and having averaged a joint squad-high two interceptions per game in the league (WhoScored), he’s no slouch when it comes to his core defensive duties either.

(Note: We can’t let this section pass without also mentioning Kevin Mac Allister, brother of Liverpool midfielder Alexis; or top scorer Dennis Ayensa, who’s currently injured and may not feature tomorrow night.)

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Union SG form guide for 2023/24

Blessin’s team travel to Anfield in fine form, with three consecutive wins putting them top of the Jupiler Pro League, despite them losing two of their opening nine matches in the division.

Results against the teams near the top of the table have been respectable, beating Anderlecht (now third) on the opening day and drawing 2-2 against champions Antwerp.

They can be porous at the back, though, having already shipped 12 goals in the league, four of which came in a hammering against mid-table Mechelen in August.

Union Saint-Gilloise in Europe

The Brussels outfit played five seasons in the early years of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (which subsequently became the UEFA Cup and now Europa League) up to the mid-1960s, but they wouldn’t participate in continental competition again until last term, and they made up for lost time.

They recovered from throwing away a two-goal first leg lead in the Champions League qualifiers against Rangers (who went on to play in Liverpool’s group) before topping their Europa League group.

Curiously, they came up against the similarly-named Union Berlin four times in the tournament, playing them twice each either side of the winter and eventually reaching the quarter-finals, where they were bettered by Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen.

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More Stories Cameron Puertas Europa League Liverpool Mohammed Amoura Ross Sykes Union Saint-Gilloise