Cercle Brugge – Match Report vs Union Saint-Gilloise (18/01/2023)

Cercle Brugge made Union Saint-Gilloise lose two important points in their title race against KRC Genk and Royal Antwerp. The hosts setup in a 3-4-3 against Union’s 3-4-1-2 and both sides struggled to play good football in the first half, with both teams playing a lot of long passes out of the back. In the second half Cercle opened the score after Somers was left completely unmarked. After this, it looked like Union woke up and they went out to hunt for the equalizer. They had to wait a while for it, but in the 82nd minute striker Nilsson tapped in the 1-1.


  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Abu Francis

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Ghanian
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 27/04/2001
  • Current club: Cercle Brugge
  • Career: Right to Dream, FC Nordsjaelland, Cercle Brugge
  • Position: Central Midfielder
  • Secondary position: Striker
  • Preferred foot: Right

Abu Francis played as one of the two central midfielders next to Leonardo da Silva Lopes and impressed me a lot against one of the better sides of the league. Francis has been a rotational player for Cercle this season and played the full 90 minutes for only the third time in the league so far. Looking at his height I’m finding slightly different data, but according to Cercle Brugge, he is 1.82m which seems about right. The Ghanian has a pretty slim build, but showed good strength in his duels on the ball with the right intensity and aggression. With his low centre of gravity and good balance, it was very hard to get him off the ball. He didn’t look very comfortable in the air, but has a very good leap and did beat the 1.97m Gustaf Nilsson in a fair aerial duel. Looking at his pace, Francis looked quite explosive with decent top speed. In the situation below, he does very well shielding the ball from Nilsson and finds Lopes da Silva for a short combination.

On the ball, Abu Francis looked calm and composed from the first minute. He showed that he has quick feet in tight spaces and was able to get out of difficult situations. There were a few moments where it looked like he slightly lost his composure after he just won a duel or beat his opponent, and his next pass was a bit off. In the 68th minute, Francis provided the assist for Cercle’s only goal. His teammates Denkey and Hotic dragged both centre backs out of the centre, leaving a lot of space for Thibo Somers. Francis kept scanning well and played a good pass through two opponents finding Somers in the box, who finished well.

Now physically and technically the 21-year-old but defensively he has some steps to make. Mainly in his defensive duels, he was a liability at times. In regular shoulder-to-shoulder duels he did well. But the way he committed to some challenges when an opponent was dribbling at him, looked very naive. At times he would just run at his opponent, who then just slightly moved direction and ran past him. And also he committed to some sliding tackles way to early, which left him on the ground and his opponent running at Cercle’s goal. His defensive positioning wasn’t the problem. He did well keeping Cercle’s side of the pitch compact when defending and intercepted a bunch of passes. Francis also did well in transition, making sure he was back in time.

Rating – A2

Abu Francis played a very solid match and is an interesting talent. It seems like his coach was also impressed, as he kept his place in the starting line-up for the next match. Defensively he has work to do, but if he manages to defend a little less naive he certainly has the potential to make a move up. First off, he has to make a lot of minutes this season, which will be interesting to track.

Jesper Daland

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Norwegian
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 06/01/2000
  • Current club: Cercle Brugge
  • Career: Stabæk (Y), FK Vigør, IK Start, Cercle Brugge
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred foot: Right

I’ve known Jesper Daland for a while now and we have two match reports covering him from past seasons. As usual, Daland played as the left centre-back, this time in a three-at-the-back formation. Daland stands at 1.89m tall with a strong build but had a tricky opponent to deal with in Gustaf Nilsson, who is a fair bit taller than Daland.

The Norwegian did very well in his aerial duels with the Swedish striker though. He deals very well with high balls and showed great timing and positioning. On the ground, Daland also put in a very good shift. He doesn’t look like the most mobile defender but is surprisingly quick on the first meters. He showed this in the 56th minute when Union launched a 3v1 counter-attack. Victor Boniface tried to get past Daland with a simple feint, but the Norwegian caught up with Union’s striker displaying great acceleration. Daland is a defender who likes to step out of the defensive line and didn’t do this as often as I’ve seen him do in other matches. The few times he did it though, he did very well defending proactively and getting the ball quickly. In possession we saw him step in the midfield a few times staying in the left halfspace, which then created more space for Cercle’s central midfielders.

Jesper Daland is very calm with the ball at his feet and showcased that against Union again. He doesn’t really seem to be limited being a right-footed player as a left centre back, as he fine playing short passes with his weaker foot. Daland keeps most of his passes quite short and safe, but has a good long pass in his right foot, able to play switches to the other wing.

Rating – A1

In the winter break Cercle Brugge and its partner club, AS Monaco, went on a training camp together in Spain. Here Daland trained with Monaco and even played a friendly match with them. Now a move to Monaco may be a little optimistic, but I think Daland could definitely play in a mid-table side in Ligue 1.

Jean Marcelin

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 12/02/2000
  • Current club: Cercle Brugge, on loan from AS Monaco
  • Career: AJ Auxerre, AS Monaco, Cercle Brugge (L)
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred foot: Right

I had very high hopes in the 2020/2021 season when I saw Jean Marcelin play his first match for Cercle Brugge at the age of 20. The centre-back got injured at the end of the season though and missed the entirety of the 2021/2022 season. This season Marcelin returned to Cercle on loan from Monaco. Against Union Saint-Gilloise Marcelin started as the most central centre-back in Cercle’s 3-4-3 and didn’t play a fantastic game overall.

Standing at 1.97m Jean Harisson Marcelin is an absolute unit of a defender. He has a slight lean build though and would still benefit from adding some extra muscle mass. With his height, Marcelin is almost automatically strong in aerial duels, but he lost out on a few duels against Gustaf Nilsson who seemed to have a slightly bigger leap. In his defensive duels, Marcelin’s long legs helped him out multiple times, being just able to get a touch of the ball and making some crucial tackles. He didn’t fully convince me here however. There were a few moments where he got dribbled past too easily and he looked like he was stuck in the ground.

Now my main concerns were his abilities with the ball at his feet. When I covered him against STVV he wasn’t really pressed and had a lot of time, but against Union he had to operate in smaller spaces at times. He didn’t look very comfortable in these situations. He looked a bit clumsy on the ball and was lucky Union didn’t punish him in these moments. Now his passing was nearly flawless, showing some decent passing range as well, only misplacing one pass throughout the match.

Rating – B1

Jean Harisson Marcelin seemed to have stagnated quite a bit in his development. However, this game against Union could’ve been a one off. Defensively he didn’t look as steady as before and on the ball, he did some questionable things.

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