“The knockout phase of the Europa League is our goal”: Union coach Alexander Blessin ambitious for the match against Toulouse


On Thursday, Union Saint-Gilloise will start the group stage of the Europa League for the second year in a row. Last season the quarter finals were the final destination for the people of Brussels and this time too they are ambitious. “We want to win all the games, although that will be difficult with Liverpool in our group.”

Last year, Union reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League, and now the people of Brussels are also ambitious. “We have many new players, but everyone has seen the emotional images from last year,” coach Alexander Blessin said at the press chat before the match against Toulouse on Thursday. “Now we are starting a new book. Our mission must be to write history again. We are in a good group. Liverpool stands out, the others are at our level. Of course we want to win all the matches. (laughs) But that will be difficult with Liverpool. Reaching the knockout stages of the Europa League would be nice. That’s the goal.”


Union’s first opponent will be Toulouse, Thursday at 6:45 PM at Lotto Park. The French club is thirteenth in Ligue 1 after five matchdays, but Blessin is wary. “They played five games this season and changed systems four times. So it’s hard to predict how they will play. We mainly look at ourselves, but we are prepared for anything.”

Last weekend against Genk, Union created a number of chances, but miraculously they failed to score. Something that will have to succeed against Toulouse if Union wants to strengthen its ambitions. “Would I play with two strikers against Toulouse to score easier? We are waiting for the right time to do that. It will remain a question mark for you for the time being whether that right moment is Thursday,” laughed Blessin. “We have worked extra on finishing this week, but again: there is no problem. We created more than enough chances against Genk,” the Union coach is not concerned.


Blessin still cannot count on Koki Machida against Toulouse. The Japanese injured himself during the international break with Japan and is not yet fit. Normally, Fedde Leysen takes his place at the back, just like last weekend against Genk. “We talked about some tactical aspects. A first starting spot is always difficult, but he played a pretty good game against Genk,” said Blessin.

The Ecuadorian striker Kevin Rodriguez is there again. He is eligible to play for Union for the first time. However, playing 90 minutes is not possible yet. “We have done everything we can to get the paperwork for his work permit in order. Kevin is a different profile than what we already had, which is always good. He is about the same height as Gustaf Nilsson, but Kevin is slightly faster. He can also finish well. I’ve only seen him train twice and he scored every time. He has a nose for goals and suits our style of play. We have a lot of options up front now.”

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