EditorialThe day after. Mouth of joy for Belgian football. A few hours earlier, the Union hit hard. Very strong. She offered herself a name, the finalist of the defunct Europa League, Rangers. A feat? Maybe not ultimately. An unusual performance? Without a doubt. At H+24, after a day punctuated by praise and superlatives, far from the overheated atmosphere of Den Dreef, we plunged back into the game. Remote control in hand, question in mind.
Is it really that surprising? Born at lunch break in front of a hastily swallowed sandwich, the questioning persists. It’s decided, this match, we have to see it again. Quiet. Far from the furnace and the euphoria of Leuven.
Wednesday, 7:11 p.m. Let’s go. Same kickoff, different game. At the stadium or on TV, live or deferred, the impression felt during the first quarter of an hour remains the same. The Union presses less, waits more and seems to apprehend the event. At least, she gives the feeling of wanting to prevent the date from turning into speed dating. Not cash in too quickly, settle down, insure. Mission accomplished, thanks in particular to a low block, yes, but tight, rehearsed. The organization is (almost) perfect. Rangers have the ball, but no space. No idea either.
Different T1, same ideas
Karel Geraerts has it. Turn everything upside down to mark the spirits and show up from the start? No thanks. Since his induction, the former Standardman has intelligently taken the path nicely traced by his mentor, Felice Mazzu. A few adjustments, but no palace revolution. Despite the departures of major pawns like Casper Nielsen and Deniz Undav, the unionist machine remains oiled.
We knew that the intrinsic qualities of the players were not going to leave Parc Duden at the same time as the Carolo coach. For the desire, the determination and the “spirit”, one could legitimately ask the question. No doubt after the first round against the Rangers, they are still there. Alright there.
In front of his TV, the new coach of Anderlecht must have appreciated. This success is also his. If the Union had failed for its big European comeback, we would have read and heard “It’s normal, you have to give the new coach time”, “a team is not built in 1.5 months”, etc If we follow this (relevant) reasoning, it is clear that the long and meticulous work carried out by Felice Mazzu and his staff over the past two years has, in part, enabled the Union to shine before the whole of Europe. Mazzu was neither on the bench nor in the stands. But he was present at Den Dreef on Tuesday evening.
Some of the sentences spoken still seem to resonate in the heads of his former proteges. Among them, the famous, “Dante, you’re going to take your balls out of your shorts and score this goal”, launched at halftime of a match last season and revealed to the general public thanks to the documentary “Allez l’Union” .
Installed in his sofa, the former T1 of the Zebras was still able to make sure of it again, the Red Devil has it. 86 days after missing what will be described as a “very important penalty for the title” (understatement mode activated) against Bruges, it was the former Genk player who placed the ball on the fateful point when Mr. Peljto appointed him against the Rangers.
“Luck” or “hype”, really?
Imagine for a moment a new failure two months later, in another historic meeting for the club. Some would not have taken the risk. Vanzeir did not dodge, visibly encouraged by his captain Teddy Teuma. And he scored. Next? He smiled. Like the Union for two seasons.
The months pass at the same pace as the “they will eventually crack.” But that doesn’t happen. So far at least. No matter the starts, no matter the opponents. At what point can we reasonably stop being surprised by the performance of a team that came close to the title and inherited the status of vice-champion after 40 (!) days of the championship. A place of honor, acquired 14 months after a title and a season flown over in D1B. How long is the “hype”, the “luck”, or the “euphoria”, supposed to last? And if the Union was not in fashion, in fact? What if she simply had style?
Element of response to the next big parade. In Glasgow.
“Enormous achievement”, “fairy tale”: the Belgian and international press hails the return “through the front door” of the Union to Europe
Road to the feat: Union take play-off option after enticing win over Rangers
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