Shock leaders Union to bounce back in style

Friday night in the Belgian Jupiler League sees mid-table Saint Truiden take on shock leaders Union Saint-Gilloise at Stayen. The hosts are four points off the top half of the standings, and will be hoping the 'blip' their newly promoted opponents suffered last time out becomes a trend. The overall form of Felice Mazzù's men has arguably been the story of the season across domestic football in Europe, and they have an excellent chance of prolonging their stay at the summit. Read our preview here:

Hollerbach, please!

German head coach Bernd Hollerbach is insisting on a big reaction from his players after the 2-0 defeat away at strugglers RFC Seraing. De Kanaries actually had the higher number of shots and presentable chances, but wasteful finishing has seen them drop down in recent weeks to 11th in the table, and scoring in general has been difficult, barely hovering above one per match. Japanese striker Daichi Hayashi is joint top for the club with a paltry two, but the club feels like a second home, given the heavy contingent in the squad originating from the Far East. Elsewhere, the defence is relatively tight in the 3-5-2 shape, complemented by wing-backs who are just as adept running back towards their own third. The issue remains making the most of what they're able to create, and veteran Christian Brüls is far too heavily relied upon in the heart of the midfield to link up play.

Dante's inferno

The story behind the meteoric rise of the Brussels outfit is worthy of many articles being written about it, but as is the trend in modern football, it originates with a takeover and a long-term project associated with it. There are also 'Moneyball' elements associated with recruitment, especially from leagues normally overlooked by larger clubs higher up the food chain in Europe. Mazzù has been able to marry seemingly disparate elements into a truly effective unit, and the evident disappointment in the aftermath of their 3-1 reverse at home to OH Leuven is testament to how far they've come in a short few years. At the heart of defence is Christian Burgess, and the former Portsmouth stopper has settled in superbly to top flight competition across the Channel. The duo at the spearhead of the attack grab most of the headlines, however - between Deniz Undav (signed from 3. Liga outfit Meppen in the summer of 2020) and Dante Vanzeir (released by Genk in the same window), they have accrued 23 goals and 17 assists, outstripping their hosts on Friday by themselves. The latter has recently been rewarded for his excellent start with a senior cap by Roberto Martínez.

Burg-eoning talents

It remains to be seen how long Union Saint-Gilloise can keep the likes of more established teams like Anderlecht and Club Brugge at arm's length, but their superiority threatens to at least match that of Leicester City in the 2015/2016 Barclays Premier League if it is maintained. As other sides begin to adapt their tactics to counter their skills, the the narrative also shifts. betway have odds of 2.00 for a win for the leaders.

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