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Martinez excited for first European night at Goodison

by | 17/09/2014  Comments (43)  jump
Roberto Martinez says that and his players are looking forward to realising their reward for last season's impressive fifth-place finish when they take on Wolfsburg in the Europa League tomorrow night.

The Blues' play their first match in European competition for five seasons and the manager is relishing the opportunity to test his team in a group that is on a par with some of this season's Champions League matchups.

"We are excited about playing in Europe. It's where we need to test ourselves and we have worked towards it for 12 months," Martinez said at his pre-match press conference.

"The crowd will play a huge part tomorrow. We can't wait to see Goodison under the lights on a European night."

Captain Phil Jagielka reiterated his boss' sentiments, saying: "The aim was to get in Europe last season. We all watched the draw in the Finch Farm canteen and now we are excited about it starting.

"Tomorrow will be a proud moment, leading the team out at Goodison. All my friends and family will be at the match."

While the manager indicated that no new injury worries came out of the weekend win at West Bromwich Albion, Sylvain Distin is a doubt after all as he nurses a dead leg.

Samuel Eto'o is expected to fit to play, though, giving Martinez options as he plans his starting XI.  

Reader Comments (43)

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Ian McDowell
1 Posted 17/09/2014 at 18:17:38
Taking my girlfriend from Yorkshire to her first football game tomorrow. Hoping for a wonderful game below the floodlights. COYB!!!!!
Sam Hoare
2 Posted 17/09/2014 at 18:43:17
It will be interesting to see if we keep the ball better than we did on our last European outing.

Wolfsburg have some top players in the likes of Diego, De Bruyne, Benaglia, Luiz Gustavo and Naldo. If they play full strength, they will be a tough nut to crack.

Our squad is not as deep as most top 6 teams and I'm curious to see how much rotation Martinez employs. I suspect we will see no more than 3 or 4 changes from the WBA team with Mirallas, McCarthy and Lukaku possibly getting a rest along with maybe Baines as we have good options at LB.

Tony Rice
3 Posted 17/09/2014 at 18:55:46
Guess Jags is playing then?
Aidy Dews
4 Posted 17/09/2014 at 19:10:19
Diego doesn't play for em anymore, Sam. Moved on last season, January in fact.

De Bruyne is their main man, the lad is a player, their linchpin.

They have got some decent players but, if we're on our game tomorrow night, we'll win... and I think we will be. The weekend's result at West Brom, with a clean sheet, will give us confidence and we'll want to start well in this competition and get off to a flyer.

Phil Walling
5 Posted 17/09/2014 at 19:16:15
Please gawd, not Robles!
Brian Waring
6 Posted 17/09/2014 at 20:17:28
Gustavo is supposedly out injured Sam.
Phil Walling
7 Posted 17/09/2014 at 20:17:11
Is the lack of posts on this thread indicative of the lukewarm interest in this Europa fixture. I've yet to come across anyone who's planning to be present?
James Flynn
8 Posted 17/09/2014 at 20:43:40
Phil - At a guess, things will pick up tomorrow. Plus, we have to win some games, which will create its own momentum.
Carl Sanderson
9 Posted 17/09/2014 at 20:47:53
"Wolfsburg have some top players in the likes of Diego, De Bruyne, Benaglia, Luiz Gustavo and Naldo."

And Olic, one of my favourite players.

Mike Allison
10 Posted 17/09/2014 at 20:39:57
Phil, I'm excited about it, but Thursday night games are very restrictive for non-local fans anyway so I think many people will be planning to man the armchairs. I received a message from the club today saying tickets were still available.

As for team selection, I don't think there will be much rotation for this one, but there will need to be for Crystal Palace on Sunday and especially Swansea on Tuesday, which is three games in six days. Throw in the Anfield derby next Saturday and it makes a fourth (massive) game in ten days.

I would expect a second XI against Swansea, and only a couple of changes for the others. The forward positions are the easiest to rotate, and substitutions are normally made in those positions anyway (although Martinez seems to have developed a Moyes-like aversion to using all three substitutes this season).

If they're fit, I do think he'll want to give game time to Besic either on Thursday or Sunday and Alcaraz on Tuesday. We could also see Garbutt and Browning on Tuesday. I've been disappointed with how little we've seen of Atsu so far, and I'm certain this will change in the next six days.

As for 'please God not Robles', Martinez's past form suggests he will play both Thursday and Tuesday. I still think it is too early to judge him, he is an FA Cup winner after all, and still very young for a goalkeeper, but this season we will find out a lot about him if Martinez does play him in all three cups.

Paul Hewitt
11 Posted 17/09/2014 at 20:52:01
Well, I am excited.


Harold Matthews
12 Posted 17/09/2014 at 20:51:46
We ought to win this one. De Bruyne and striker Olic played well the other day but we look better class.
Raymond Fox
13 Posted 17/09/2014 at 20:37:54
I see you're still doing a dagger job on Robles, Phil.

It depends what strength each manager sends on the pitch, so it's impossible to gauge our chances at this stage! That, along with being unsure how the Prem. measures up to their league, is giving me a no-win type situation.

If we win, it will be sort of expected, but if we lose it will be seen as a bit of a disaster!

Mark Frere
14 Posted 17/09/2014 at 20:57:06
I'm very much looking forward to this game. I think there will be a little bit of squad rotation... it's tough to predict the starting 11 but, for what it's worth, I would start with this side:

Coleman Jagielka Stones Baines
Besic Barry
Mirallas Naismith Astu

David Hallwood
15 Posted 17/09/2014 at 20:58:27
Sorry gents, weÂ’ve seen teams playing in the Europa on Thursday look lacklustre come Sunday. So my team would be:

Coleman Stones Alcaraz (yes really!!) Garbutt
Gibson Besic
Atsu Naismith Pienaar (if fit)


Not a bad second XI and it just shows how far weÂ’ve traveled as a club.

Nick Entwistle
16 Posted 17/09/2014 at 21:23:22
Why not go all the way and put in Hibbert, David!

Unfortunately this group is a lot tougher than the ones of Metalist Kharkiv etc. We go up against a full strength Wolfsburg with that team and we'll be lucky to draw. If I were going to rotate I'd...

Coleman Distin Stones Baines
McCarthy Besic
Atsu Osman McGeady

Ian Bennett
17 Posted 17/09/2014 at 21:32:18
I'd go:-




Eto'o, or Naismith if he isn't fit to start.

David Hallwood
18 Posted 17/09/2014 at 22:09:03
Sorry Nick (#16), I just think that the Premier League is a higher priority than the Europa League. Our next three games are Palace, RS & Man Utd, and if we start like the majority of teams that have competed in the Europa v Palace we will be playing catch up before OctoberÂ’s kicked in.

Colin Glassar
19 Posted 17/09/2014 at 22:26:17
My team would be:


Stephen Brown
20 Posted 17/09/2014 at 22:40:22
Coleman Stones Jagielka Baines
Mirallas Besic McCarthy Pienaar

Subs: Robles, Lukaku, Atsu, Gibson, McGeady, Garbutt, Distin.

Stephen Brown
21 Posted 17/09/2014 at 22:46:58
Just looked at my team again and realised it looks like a Hobbit 11. I hope Wolfsburg aren’t your stereotypical tall Germans...
Phil Walling
22 Posted 17/09/2014 at 22:57:30
Colin; how can you possibly pick an Everton team with Robles in goal and expect anything but disaster?
Charles Cook
23 Posted 17/09/2014 at 23:07:59
I struggle with the Robles criticism on a number of levels. Chief amongst these would be my reluctance to accept appraisals that totally write players off. Nonsense.

Also, I really liked him when I saw him play for Wigan in their cup-winning side, and was genuinely pleased when we signed him.

That said, he looks a bag of nerves for us. Harold often speaks of an experienced reserve keeper and Robles getting his miles on loan. Sounds like a plan to me.

Colin Glassar
24 Posted 17/09/2014 at 23:19:02
I believe there's a good goalkeeper in Robles, Phil. Sooner or later he will start to show it.
Bill Gall
25 Posted 17/09/2014 at 23:25:04
Hope we do better than the other English teams did against German opponents.
Paul Ferry
26 Posted 17/09/2014 at 23:40:13
I agree with you about Robies Col - 24. He will start tomorrow
and a clean sheet would do him (and us) the world of good.

I'm not at all happy with the goalie situation right now. Yep we had a nice clean sheet at the weekend but Tim Howard had very little to do until late on and quite frankly 14 shots on target in the first three games and 10 goals conceded says something.



Michael Winstanley
27 Posted 18/09/2014 at 00:42:03
Same starting eleven as against West Brom with maybe Distin in for Stones. Sunday and Tuesday I expect to see different teams put out with good results in each.

Every time I've seen Robles play he's looked jittery and out of place, like he's not really sure what he's doing.

Tim Greeley
28 Posted 18/09/2014 at 00:55:53
I'd say its pretty clear who Roberto trusts at this juncture – the starting 11 against WBA, Distin, Pienaar, Ossie and Eto'o. Until we see differently, I would say those are the players we will see feature most prominently along with cameos from Besic and Atsu from the bench.

His penchant for Robles in cups does not and should not equal a start in our first home European match in five years. Howard needs to be in. By the time Swansea rolls around, who knows what we will see but for Wolfsburg and Crystal Palace, I think he sticks with those mentioned above... for better or worse!

James Stewart
29 Posted 18/09/2014 at 01:50:23
Colin, that team would get mauled!

First time back in Europe — play the strongest XL!

Conn Prosser
30 Posted 18/09/2014 at 02:37:22
Really looking forward to this one although I am quite worried about our defense. The clean sheet at the weekend will have done wonders for confidence but I fear the shut-out is mis-representative of our stability. We looked all over the place for quite a few West Brom attacks. Be it balls coming over the top or short passes into the box, the lack of organisation was clear.

Stones had a look on his face that said "I'm trying here!" And yes, Barry and McCarthy did a lot more defensively but were both guilty of some shocking mistakes. It was only a profligate West Brom attack that stopped it being another two-all draw or worse.

However, we look awesome going forward, which is why I can't wait!

Julian Wait
31 Posted 18/09/2014 at 02:26:23
I think Howard will want to play and I think he's earned it. To be honest, I think he should play EPL and EL and Robles should take the domestic cups for now. We should be taking the EL just as seriously as the EPL, but we do need to rest players and I think there's a case for playing players with more experience in Europe / outside of England, i.e. Eto'o, Besic, Hibbert (!), Atsu, Mirallas, plus of course Baines, Jags, Barry, Osman and Mirallas. However I would be worried about too many changes, though some players clearly need to be rotated at some point.

I think the hardest decision might be Stones or Distin, but I think we'll see Distin against CP perhaps.

Possible 11

Hibbert - Stones or Distin? - Jagielka - Baines
Mirallas - Besic - Barry - Atsu

Subs: Robles, Coleman, Garbutt, Gibson, Pienaar, Lukaku

Likely subs are Gibson for Besic (or vice versa), Pienaar or Lukaku for Atsu depending on whether we're winning (Lukaku if we're not), and Garbutt for Baines to rest him (unless it's very tight).

Not sure if Gibson, Pienaar are fit, if not that would bring McCarthy and McGeady onto the bench, respectively, else we are leaving out:

McCarthy, McGeady, Distin, Garbutt + kids

If any players in the normal 11+6 have any fatigue or niggles, they should automatically be left out with a view to Sunday and week Saturday.

But who knows, it's all about how the manager sees it and senses his players, and what he wants. We certainly can't afford to throw such an important game, a draw would be a decent first result, a win just lovely.

Dominic Tonge
32 Posted 18/09/2014 at 02:52:10
Taking my partner to her first game. Cant wait to see us back in European competition.
Julian Wait
33 Posted 18/09/2014 at 03:40:43
So bloody wish I could be there. I will hopefully be watching from a fairly anaemic sports bar in a boring satellite town just outside of Austin (where I work), fully sober at 2pm in the afternoon.

Ah to be with the smell of beer, hotdogs and horse sh1t as I head up Goodison Rd and under the floodlights .... enjoy it lads ... and sing out your hearts and let them know we're back ...

Anto Byrne
34 Posted 18/09/2014 at 03:42:07
Without game time, you can’t expect Robles to perform miracles. He looked more than useful at Wigan and was in goal in the FA Cup Final and kept Man City at bay. If he ever gets a run in the side should Howard get injured, we may get a more confident player – I think Naismith is testament to that notion.

Wolfsburg is a big game so I foresee Howard in goal and Robles getting a game at Swansea next week. Atsu and Eto’o to start with options on the bench. We could see Osman and Gibson in the middle. Should make interesting viewing. 2-0 will be very handy.

James Wong
35 Posted 18/09/2014 at 04:03:37
You put your best team out for the home games (and the first game), never mind the rotation, you can rotate for the away games.

If we can get three wins (2 from home and 1 away) then that should be enough.

Looking forward to the Europa League, very happy Everton have another chance at silverware.

Harold Matthews
36 Posted 18/09/2014 at 05:36:53
Judging by Lukaku and Delboy last season, Martinez does not like to rush the youngsters. Injuries forced him to give Stones a chance at CB last week but it resulted in Coleman and McCarthy hardly getting over the halfway line. By orders of course.

In a normal year I wouldn't expect to see much of Atsu or Besic before Nov/Dec. It's all about understanding our system and the boss likes to give them a certain number of sessions at the Farm before bringing them on for the odd 10 minutes here and there. By the end of Jan into Feb they will hopefully be fully integrated.

Starting tonight, this is not a normal year but I can't see him taking too many chances. There's is also the fact that all the experienced players from last season, quite rightly, think they've earned the right to play. Let's hope they have a good night.

Mark Griffiths
37 Posted 18/09/2014 at 07:01:02
COYB! I wouldn't rotate too much with our first outing into Europe but I do think that Eto'o has a great deal of experience and knows how to score in Europe and that might be key.
Jim Bennings
38 Posted 18/09/2014 at 07:52:51
Well I am very excited and really looking forward to it.

After watching the European matches over the last few nights I am desperate for the Blues to get involved, there is just a totally different feeling in the air at night games, especially European games under the floodlights at Goodison.

I think we will all see come kick-off time tonight that all the naysayers who deride the Europa League will be wrong, the atmosphere will be rocking and the knowledge of getting the important win in the first match will count extra.

Let's face it Everton v Wolfsburg sounds like more of a Champions League occasion than Liverpool v Ludogorets.

We know that top 4 is probably out of bounds until further investment comes in to the club so I aim to make every enjoyable minute of our European nights worthy.

Andrew Clare
39 Posted 18/09/2014 at 06:43:49
Nothing but our best team will have a chance of getting a result tonight. Underestimate German football at your peril. Look at last night's results. German teams have been a force in Europe for many many years. Far more sophisticated in their play than most of the EPL.
Jim Bennings
40 Posted 18/09/2014 at 08:02:27

German football is far more competitive than the Premier League now, in fact everything about German football is what English football should aspire to be, from how to treat the fans to how to properly coach players.

Phil Brown
41 Posted 18/09/2014 at 08:52:22
Jim (#40), Perhaps you should just leave it as "everything about Germany is what the UK should aspire to be" - having lived there for 6 years, albeit a long time ago.
Gavin Ramejkis
42 Posted 18/09/2014 at 11:09:43
Amen Andrew, Jim and Phil regards Germany
Kevin Joszko
44 Posted 18/09/2014 at 17:32:09
We all need to see Besic, Atsu (I know he needs to learn our players and system but he is on loan and only game time will do that) Gibson and still very excited about Eto'o, he will be priceless tonight.

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