Union vs Liverpool Preview: A Youthful Team

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Union Saint-Gilloise v Liverpool – The Europa League Group Stage Preview

For the final game of the Europa League opening stages, the reds travel to Belgium with their position as group E winners already confirmed. A successful campaign (so far) and subsequent dead rubber tie comes at the perfect moment for the ambitious Anfield club, as the Premier League’s 1st placed team continues along their hectic Christmas schedule. The upcoming League Cup game at home to West Ham, avails in the following midweek, which will be sandwiched in between home games against Manchester United and Arsenal, respectively. Union Saint-Gilloise have an outside chance of qualifying for the next stage of the Europa League, despite their own 3rd placed position in the group looking set to be their final placing. 2nd placed Toulouse travel to Austrian side LASK, as they themselves look to confirm their place in the knockout stages, as Group E runners up. If Toulouse were to lose, however, Liverpool’s opponents could creep into second place, which could make for an interesting away day for the European giants.

The Union Saint-Gilloise Availability

On the injury front, Gustaf Nilsson and Charles Vanhoutte are both out for this home tie. In terms of their recent form, the Belgium Pro League leaders travelled to Charleroi on Sunday, where they extended their top division lead with a comprehensive 1-3 win. On the Thursday prior, a trip to S.K. Beveren produced another win, as they advanced into the next round of the Belgium Cup, with a comfortable 0-2 win. Their last home game came on December 3rd, where visiting Cercle Brugge were beaten 2-1.

Below is my prediction on the starting eleven for the away side, in a 3-5-2 formation.

GK – Anthony Moris

RWB – Casper Terho

RCB – Ross Sykes

CB – Christian Burgess

LCB – Koki Machida

LWB – Alessio Castro-Montes

CM – Cameron Puertas

CDM – Charles Vanhoutte

CM – Lazare Amani

CF – Dennis Eckert

CF – Mohamed Amoura

The Liverpool Availability

In terms of injures, the ongoing unavailability of Thiago Alcântara appears to be coming to an end, as the legendary former Barca man was seen at the AXA Training Centre this week. Stefan Bajčetić and Andy Robertson are out until the new year, whereas Joël Matip has sustained a campaign ending ACL injury. Alexis Mac Allister will not be risked for this contest due to stitches in his knee, after sustaining the injury against Sheffield United.

Calum Scanlon, Marcelo Pitaluga, and Bobby Clark, will all be hoping to gain some minutes in a game that means absolutely nothing to the reds final placing. The likes of Joe Gomez, Harvey Elliott, and Cody Gakpo, may well be the only senior players that start, with Jürgen Klopp perhaps looking to maintain some degree of integrity in game that can still impact the final Group E placings.

Below is my prediction on the starting eleven for the away side, where the hybrid initiative will surely be abandoned for a more conventional 4-3-3 formation.

GK – Caoimhin Kelleher

RB – Conor Bradley

RCB – Joe Gomez (c)

LCB – Jarell Quansah

LB – Luke Chambers

RCM – Harvey Elliott

CDM – Trey Nyoni

LCM – James McConnell

RW – Kaide Gordon

CF – Cody Gakpo

LW – Ben Doak

How Will This Contest Play Out

I can see plenty of open play between a home side in form and a visitor, that will no doubt be a combination of youth and fringe players. Union’s manager, Alexander Blessin, will be hoping for results to fall in his sides favour, something which could make for an exciting European night at the Joseph Marien Stadium. I would imagine that 9’400 supporters will fill the home ground of Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, one that could represent a good learning experience for some Liverpool youngsters. Mohamed Amoura is certainly one to watch for the hosts, with the striker netting 11-goals in 12-league games this season.

Player to watch – Mohamed Amoura

Score Prediction;

Union Saint-Gilloise 4 – 2 Liverpool

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