Union St Gilloise travel to Liverpool to face one of England’s top clubs in the Europa League on Thursday night. For the Brussels side this is just the latest in a long line of moments that seemed a millions miles away just a handful of seasons ago. After finally regaining their place in the top flight of Belgium football in 2021, a moment 48 years in waiting, the side have not looked back. They instantly challenged for the title in their first season back, before doing the same last campaign before narrowly missing out to Antwerp. This denied the side the chance to finally end their wait for a 12th league title, with the last coming in 1935.
Despite losing key players in both of the previous two summers, the side have continued to recruit well, finding replacements for key players in places that not many others are looking. Now they get to have a special night in Merseyside, but Liverpool fans should not expect the Belgian side to just turn up and enjoy the occasion. They will be going with a desire to win the game.
The first key player to look out for is 25-year-old Swiss midfielder Cameron Puertas. With the departures of club captain Teddy Teuma to France and Senne Lynen to the Bundesliga, the way was open for Puertas to finally take his chance. He has most certainly done that. The midfielder has an eye for goal and can create as well. He has scored two goals so far this season, while also providing four assists. His energy helps drive the side forward.
Another key player over the past few seasons for the side has been Madagascan international Loïc Lapoussin. The 27-year-old operates on the left and does the job of two players. His ability going forward and in defence helps the side have balance, and like Puertas he is always looking to drive the side on and make decisive plays. Lapoussin has played 126 games for Union since joining them in 2020, meaning he has been there throughout their period of recent success.
At the back, the side are led by former Portsmouth fan favourite Christian Burgess. The 31-year-old Englishman joined Union in 2020 after 210 appearances for Pompey. He has made 131 appearances for Union in that time and has become a firm favourite of the fans in that time. He will certainly relish the chance to face Liverpool, especially when you consider that League One was the highest level he played at during his time in English football.
Union showed during last seasons Europa League that they are coming to compete with the rest of Europe. They never give up, with many a late comeback last season. After a 1-1 draw against Toulouse, a game they could have easily won, they will be going into the clash with Jürgen Klopp’s side full of confidence. Top of the league with three wins on the bounce since the clash with Toulouse, Liverpool should not underestimate their Belgian opponents this evening.