Postmortem: Reds Secure Clean Europa Victory

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Liverpool 2 – 0 Royale Union Saint-Gilloise – The Europa League Postmortem

The initial game of the reds Europa League campaign saw a visit to Austria end in a straightforward victory, one which saw our German manager able to blood many of the fringe players within his talented squad. The second game of our group stage allowed for the visit to Anfield of Belgium Pro League side, Royale Union Saint-Gilloise. This low-key encounter represented the perfect opportunity for the club to vanquish any White Hart Lane demons, that may have lingered in the aftermath of last Saturday’s horrid spectacle of despair. The expected rotation and shuffling of players were in full effect here, with the starting line-up listed below.

The Starting Eleven

Alisson Becker

Trent Alexander Arnold (c)

Jarell Quansah

Ibrahima Konaté

Kostas Tsimikas

Wataru Endō

Harvey Elliott

Ryan Gravenberch

Mohamed Salah

Darwin Núñez

Diogo Jota


Luis Diaz – Darwin Núñez (45 mins)

Curtis Jones – Mohamed Salah (45 mins)

Alexis Mac Allister – Wataru Endō (45 mins)

Joe Gomez – Trent Alexander Arnold (63 mins)

Dominik Szoboszlai – Ryan Gravenberch (79 mins)


Liverpool 1 – 0 Royale Union Saint-Gilloise

Ryan Gravenberch (Trent Alexander Arnold) 44 mins

Liverpool 2 – 0 Royale Union Saint-Gilloise

Diogo Jota (defensive assist) 90+2 mins

The First Half

This was the ideal midweek game to be wedged in between trips to both White Hart Lane and the American Express Stadium. The debacle of last weekend is now in the wind, whereas a blustering encounter with Brighton now awaits us on Sunday afternoon. This Europa tie against the Belgium Pro Leagues current top team, was about as uneventful as was desired, with no players sent off, no yellow cards, very few incidents of note, whereas VAR was thankfully redundant for 90+ minutes of free-flowing football. My job after every game is to write ratings and award and Anfield Index man of the match (no giant champagne presented), which commonly entails detailing something ridiculous or some type of officiating calamity. No, this game had none of that and was instead a pleasant game of football that produced a clean sheet for the home team, amidst and comprehensive 2-0 victory. Each Liverpool player diligently carried their specific tasks in the first half, which was rounded off by an instinctive finish, after Trent Alexander Arnold saw his long-range effort fumbled at the feet of the alert Ryan Gravenberch. The half ended shortly thereafter, with the opening goal compounding a measured 45 minutes of play. The only annoyance in this opening period, was the continued inability of Darwin to put the finishing touch to simple chances. His early opportunity saw half the goal wide open, with a just a few yards between him and an early 1-0 lead. Though we will continue to adore the full-blooded displays and tremendous goals he does score, it would be a delight to see the Uruguay striker net these simple tap-ins.

The Second Half

You would imagine that a pre-planned raft of substitutions was always going to occur at half time, with load management overriding the actual events of the game. This is the kind of endeavour is a bonus of playing in a second-tier European tournament, allowing the confidence that a result can be attained amongst whole sale changes. In essence, the group stage of this competition can be treated much in the same way that elite international teams navigate their own qualifying group stages. I would suspect that all those players that left the pitch at half time (including Trent shortly afterwards) will start the next Premier League fixture, given the importance of three points after a loss to Spurs. I have written a piece that details how starting Wataru Endō as the holding midfielder (against Albion) would free Alexis Mac Allister to play his more natural box to box role. The withdrawal of Japan’s skipper at the interval does point to that theory, which will be confirmed with the release of the teams at 13.00 on Sunday. This second half of this game was a continuation of control and smart interplay, which allowed very little exertion by the men in red. Jarell Quansah was once again superb, whereas Diogo Jota reminded everyone how predatory he can be when set free in the penalty box. This game was all but over by that point, though it was still nice to rubber stamp the victory with a good counter attacking goal.

What Are My Final Thoughts…?

This match up was quite pleasant to watch and was exactly what was needed in the build up to a key game. The continued sharing of minutes (amongst the group) could prove pivotal as we approach the busy Christmas period, as so many of our direct competitors are forced to start many of their first team players, in the far more competitive Champions’ League group stages. The attention of our manager now turns to a critical trip to the south coast, before yet another international break, in the knowledge that qualification to the next stage of the Europa League is almost assured.

Pre match player to watch;

Ryan Gravenberch

Pre match prediction;

Liverpool 3 – 0 Royale Union Saint-Gilloise

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