Royale Union SG will welcome Liverpool to their home ground for the final group game of their Europa League group. Liverpool will be looking to finish as group winners, while Royale will be hoping they can keep their qualification hopes alive.
Royale Union SG made a strong start to the new Belgian League season, claiming three consecutive wins in the games against St.Liege, Anderlecht, and Leuven. However, they were brought down to earth at KV Mechelen as they were hammered 4-0. Their third-place finish last season meant they would be playing the Europa League this term, and they faced Swiss side Lugano in the playoffs. They won 3-0 on aggregate without conceding in 180 minutes.
Back in the league, Royale Union drew 2-2 with Antwerp before suffering a first home defeat of the season to Genk. Royale SG then went ahead to draw their Europa League opener at home against Toulouse but have since returned to winning ways in the League with victories over Cercle Brugge, RWDM, and Charleroi. A trip to Liverpool followed in the Europa League, but it ended in a narrow 2-0 defeat.
Royale then went on a run of several wins in the Jupiler League featuring teams like St. Truiden, Westerlo, and Club Brugge; sandwiched with those wins was a first win in the Europa League against LASK. On match day four, LASK got their revenge, winning the match 3-0.
Forward Eckert Ayensa has stood out as one of the players of the side, and they will be hoping they can eclipse their quarterfinal feat of last season.
On the other hand, Liverpool's strong start to the season came as a surprise after the Reds lost the likes of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino in the summer. Liverpool were not at their best last season as they missed out on the UEFA Champions League to return to this competition.
Following those departures, Jurgen Klopp has been able to get the likes of Dominik Szoboszlai, World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister from Brighton, Ryan Gravenberch arriving from Bayern Munich, and Wataru Endo in and they have been very competitive this campaign. Upfront, Mohammed Salah remains the go-to-man for the Reds and has been showing his worth in games this season.
In the season opener against Chelsea, he set up Luis Diaz for his side’s first PL goal of the season before goals from Luis Diaz, Mohamed Salah, and Diogo Jota got the 2019-20 Premier League Champions their first three points of the season against Bournemouth at Anfield. Liverpool built on that win with a 2-1 comeback win over Newcastle before beating Aston Villa 3-0 and earned their first clean sheet of the season.
Jurgen Klopp’s side then went on a streak of 3-1 wins - a comeback win over Wolves at Molineux and another comeback win over LASK in the Europa League opener. Liverpool’s next two results both ended in wins as well - West Ham in the Premier League and then Leicester City in the Carabao Cup. Liverpool then suffered a controversial 2-1 defeat at Tottenham before going seven games without a defeat until the 3-2 loss to Toulouse on match day four of the Europa League.
Based on form and pedigree, this is a game Liverpool should win easily, but after seeing them crumble against Toulouse, a bit of doubt might set in here. However, having secured top spot in the group after a 4-0 win over LASK in Matchday 5, Jurgen Klopp should be able to put out a significantly weaker side than he would otherwise have had to select.
This will be their second-ever meeting, but the Reds are huge favorites to not just win on Thursday but to win the tournament overall. And they are expected to cart away all three points and finish as group winners.
The epic match at Lotto Arena in Brussels kicks off on 14th December, at 5:45 PM UK time, and it will be shown live on TNT Sports, with coverage starting from around 5 PM.
This particular European night will be special at Royale, and fans should be ready for a treat. Union are not playing at their home ground, but this 22,000-capacity will be good to accommodate them and the Liverpool fans coming for the game.
Getting tickets for Royale Union SG vs Liverpool tickets shouldn't be difficult, considering the opposition and status of this competition. Hence, you are advised to search ticket reselling sites should they be expectedly sold out on each club’s channels.
Royale usually line up in a 3-4-3 formation, and they might stick with it for this final Europa League group game of the season. With no major injury casualties, Moris should start in goal, while Sadiki and Vanhoutte sit in midfield, and Nilsson leads the line in attack.
Royale Union SG: Moris; Mac Allister, Burgess, Leysen; Castro-Montes, Vanhoutte, Sadiki, Lapoussin; Amani, Nilsson, Puertas.
Jurgen Klopp’s side is guaranteed a spot in the next round, but he will be keen to offer some minutes to other team players and Academy products. Goalkeeper Kelleher should continue in goal, while Tsimikas may start at left-back and Gravenberch is expected to play a part in this game. Meanwhile, Thiago remains a long-term absentee.
Liverpool: Kelleher; Gomez, Matip, Quansah, Tsimikas; Endo, Gravenberch, Elliott; Doak, Gakpo, Gordon.
One area Liverpool has not improved this season is keeping clean sheets. The Reds now concede goals regularly and in their last away game in the Europa League, they conceded three goals at Toulouse and have kept only two clean sheets in the competition this season.
Royale is used to scoring in games, but they failed to score at Anfield they will be hoping for a much better performance on Thursday night.
Liverpool have an impeccable record against Belgian opposition, as they have won 13 of their 16 matches against teams from that country.
Based on the attacking prowess of the two teams, we expect a goal fest in this final group game between the Belgians and the former English champions.
Royale Union SG 1-3 Liverpool