Union SG makes Joel Matip own goal joke and names fantastic Liverpool pair ahead of Europa League clash

Union’s head coach Alexander Blessin. Picture:  LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty ImagesUnion’s head coach Alexander Blessin. Picture:  LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images
Union’s head coach Alexander Blessin. Picture: LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images | BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images
Liverpool prepare to face Royal Union Saint-Gilloise in the Europa League.

Royal Union Saint-Gilloise head coach Alexander Blessin admitted Liverpool were on his side's minds during their game at the weekend.

The Reds welcome the Belgium club to Anfield in the Europa League on Thursday. Liverpool head into the Group E encounter on the back of a 2-1 loss against Tottenham Hotspur that was riddled with controversy. Jurgen Klopp's side ended the match with nine men, while Joel Matip netted a 96th minute own goal which ended their unbeaten start to the 2023-24 season.

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Union, meanwhile, returned to the summit of the Jupiler League after a 3-1 victory over Charleroi. Former Accrington defender Ross Sykes bagged a double while ex-Portsmouth and Middlesbrough centre-back Christian Burgess was also on target.

Union will head to Anfield as significant underdogs in what will be a history-making game for the club. Blessin know the challenge his troops face - but quipped that the visitors will have a chance of winning if Matip turns into his own net again. Via Het Nieuwsblad, he said: “It was a can opener in a difficult match. The high temperature at this time of year played tricks on us and we were sometimes a bit too lazy and sleepy. Liverpool was already something on our minds.

"It will be something different against fantastic players like [Ibrahima] Konate and Matip.” Blessin then grinned: “Although, maybe Matip will score another own goal like this weekend. Then we have a chance. Why not?"

Blessin has already faced Liverpool in his career when he was a youth coach at RB Leipzig. Having toured Anfield during that occasion, he's now relishing taking charge of a game at the iconic stadium.

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He added: “When I was still coach of the U19 of Leipzig, we once played against the U19 of Liverpool in the preparation. We then visited Anfield and the museum. I sent a video to my wife of myself in the stadium, saying that it would be a dream to play there one day. Five years later the time has come. If it is so special for me, I can imagine it is the same for my players.”

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