Match PreviewEverton begin their group stage campaign in Italy against Atalanta hoping to use Europe as a springboard to launch their season.
Successive defeats against Chelsea and Tottenham without scoring a goal, coupled with a disappointing end to the transfer window, have taken the gloss off what began as a hugely promising summer but the Blues made it through the qualifying rounds of the Europa League fairly comfortably.
An away game against Serie A opposition is likely to pose an altogether more challenging contest, though, particularly for a side that has been struggling to create scoring chances.
Ronald Koeman's men meet Atalanta, last season's surprise package in Serie A having finished fourth - above Lazio, Milan, Inter and Fiorentina. That ensured a place in UEFA's secondary continental competition for the side from Bergamo.
However, the Toffees aren't heading to the city in Lombardy but rather the Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia - the home of Sassuolo - to take on Atalanta on neutral territory.
Gian Piero Gasperini's side are being forced to pitch up 120 miles away from their own ground in European competition this term - for comparison, it's like the Toffees not being able to play at Goodison Park and having to use Coventry's Ricoh Arena instead.
Atalanta will play at the venue near Modena for so long as they remain in the Europa League as their home stadium — the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia — is currently being renovated.
Despite starting this season with two defeats, their most recent performance saw them claim a 2-1 win against Sassuolo which has seen them kick-start their campaign. Their form a year ago was no better with just two wins in their opening six league games, so if history is anything to go by, Atalanta are just getting started and Everton should be wary.
Their rise that saw many in Italian media call them the ‘new Leicester' has meant losing a few of their star players, with Andrea Conti and Franck Kessie joining AC Milan and Alessandro Bastoni joining the black-and-blue half of the city. With their two highest transfer spends this summer being the £12m signing of Marten de Roon from Middlesbrough and Timothy Castagne from Genk for £5m, it would be fair to suggest this Atalanta side isn't as strong as that of last season.
Ronald Koeman expects a difficult game but has said that Wayne Rooney will be part of the team.
Ronaldo Koeman is expected to offer his stars a chance at redemption by fielding a similar side to that which fell so short against Tottenham. Mason Holgate and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are e expected to come into the line-up in an otherwise unchanged side. Rooney is also expected to play again despite playing the full 90 minutes on Saturday and expecting to start on the weekend.
Atalanta are expected to make a few changes despite an encouraging victory on the weekend. Rotation in goal and a Europa League debut for Castagne are the biggest headlines regarding Atalanta's XI. Mattia Caldara, Andreas Cornelius, Aaron Meijers and Remo Freuler are all expected to drop out of the line-up.
Predicted Line Ups
Atalanta: Berisha, Toloi, Palomino, Masiello, Hateboer, Freuler, Christante, Castagne, Kurtic, Petagna, Gomez.
Everton: Pickford, Holgate, Keane, Williams, Baines, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Klaassen, Rooney, Sigurdsson, Calvert-Lewin.
Reader Comments (26)
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1 Posted 14/09/2017 at 08:49:23
2 Posted 14/09/2017 at 09:53:18
Bearing in mind that these are a Seri A side, they should not be under-estimated, but having said that, they only recorded their first win over Sassuolo this weekend gone. So, tempting fate, it could be a good time to face them, and again I emphasise team selection and attitude.
Reading some of the post-match comments, after the demoralizing and embarrassing collapse at home to Spurs, I think the players realise there were a lot of sub-par performances, and I sincerely hope too, that Martina, who can't defend, never plays for us again. Kenny or Holgate a must at right-back.
3 Posted 14/09/2017 at 14:42:33
Ronald Koeman says he is taking the Europa League "very seriously," as Everton begin their campaign with an away tie against Atalanta on Thursday.
James McCarthy, Ross Barkley, Ramiro Funes Mori, Yannick Bolasie and Seamus Coleman are injured, whilst Aaron Lennon has also not travelled to Italy.
Koeman has indicated he may make some changes to the team.
"We have more than 11 players available, so we can make some rotations," he said.
"But, like always, we will start with a strong team,"
Cypriot side Apollon Limassol and France's Lyon are the other two sides in Group E.
4 Posted 14/09/2017 at 14:45:59
I would go with:
Kenny Keane Jagielka Baines
Lookman Sigurdsson Calvert-Lewin
Subs: Stekelenburg, Martina, Holgate, Williams, Davies, Schneiderlin, Rooney.
I'd be looking at giving Klaassen a chance box-to-box. Seems like a clever footballer. It is not that I don't rate Schneiderlin, I just don't think he gets forward at all. Let Gueye do the mopping up and free Klaassen up to float into pockets of space in midfield and be the link up player.
To be honest, as long as we don't have a performance like Saturday, I will be happy.
5 Posted 14/09/2017 at 15:01:55
What's made it even worse some bigger idiot has given him a three year contract.
Let's hope we put the last two debacles behind us, and start to play, as a team, with joined up thinking and passing, and last but not least, a big of pace and urgency, no sideways or backward short passing.
6 Posted 14/09/2017 at 15:54:47
For what it's worth (absolutely nothing) we might be better with a little less reliance on Rooney right now. Let the other new signings take center stage.
Despite his goals getting us our only points, I see a 31-year-old who should be a strong complimentary player/leader on this team being made the complete focal point because of who he is/was. And it's not to our advantage, nor his. Oh well.
7 Posted 14/09/2017 at 16:19:20
Kenny Keane Holgate Baines
Klaassen Sigurdsson Lookman
Would have put Lennon in for Klaassen but read somewhere he didn't travel?
The key (again but not yet tried by Koeman) is a combination of playing players in their right positions (except maybe Klaassen) and to play our most expensive and possible most gifted player in his most suited No 10 role.
8 Posted 14/09/2017 at 16:19:25
9 Posted 14/09/2017 at 16:20:13
10 Posted 14/09/2017 at 16:26:04
Besic must be disappointed, he's about the only fit central midfielder we have that isn't playing every game!
11 Posted 14/09/2017 at 16:29:10
Kenny, Holgate, Keane, Baines
Lookman, Gana, Davies, Vlasic
Subs: Stekelenburg, Jagielka, Schneiderlin, Klaassen, Sandro, Rooney, Mirallas
However, I do not for one minute think this will be the team. Expect to see Klassen, Rooney and Sigurdsson crammed into an ineffective formation again...with similar results
12 Posted 14/09/2017 at 16:34:08
Worse still, if they are well beaten as I fear will happen, my passion has been diminished to the extent that I probably will speak to my wife after, and I won't kick the cat.
Best I can hope for is that they will bore Atalanta into submission and a goalless draw will be lauded as a great result.
13 Posted 14/09/2017 at 16:34:13
14 Posted 14/09/2017 at 16:35:54
I'm not his biggest fan but I would have took Bony on loan for 1 year as a stop gap until next summer.
It's such a shame we are now going to be depending on a youngster who, 10 months ago, we all thought, Who?????
16 Posted 14/09/2017 at 16:37:27
18 Posted 14/09/2017 at 16:41:22
19 Posted 14/09/2017 at 16:45:30
Might not be the walk up to the old lady but still match chills!
20 Posted 14/09/2017 at 16:45:33
I would say our best ball crossing players are Sigurdsson, Ross and Coleman. Other than that I think we are very thin in that respect, even Bolasie is not very good at it, Mirallas always cuts inside to shoot, Lennon never did have that 'final ball'. Lookman looks to me to be another who likes to generally cut inside. Kenny looks like he can cross a ball but he seems to have shat in Koeman's hot tub.
21 Posted 14/09/2017 at 17:03:27
22 Posted 14/09/2017 at 17:07:57
Martina on the bench is a good call... but there instead on Kenny... not a good call at all.
23 Posted 14/09/2017 at 17:07:59
24 Posted 14/09/2017 at 17:08:39
As for Barkley, one of the most overrated players for a long time, and that goes for his crosses too. Time and time again, he would put too much pace on it and it would go out the opposite side for a throw in. Or he would try to curl each cross and it would go bend out behind the goal for a goal kick, garbage.
I don't miss Barkley's gormless face running in a straight line up the pitch, which always resulted in one of three likelihoods. Either he would stop and think for 5 seconds before passing it right back to Jagielka. He would either standing looking gormless for 5 seconds, by which time the rest of the opposition had got back into position. Or, he would simply run into a player and fall down, sometimes dramatically, sometimes not. So so predictable. I would snap any teams hand off willing to pay £10m in January.
25 Posted 14/09/2017 at 17:10:43
With Davies and Klaassen employed as attacking half backs it would allow flexibility up front, provided by a combination of Rooney / Calvert-Lewin / Sandro, with Sigurdsson acting as the pivot.
With Davies and Klaassen covering the gaps left by attacking full backs, the jigsaw is complete.
26 Posted 14/09/2017 at 17:14:11
I think this formation suits our squad much better & gives us the width we have been crying out for.
Holgate Keane Williams Baines
Rooney Sigurdsson Vlasic
Looking at our full strength squad:
4-2-3-1 - with Bolasie & Sandro playing as RF & LF and then dropping back.
Coleman(c) Keane Williams Baines
Bolasie Sigurdsson Sandro
Stekelenburg, Jagielka, Holgate, Davies, Klaassen, Vlasic, Calvert-Lewin.
As a team it would easy to replace players for certain games, in order to gain advantage, without disrupting the formation.
Klaassen & Davies add something different than Idrissa & Schneiderlin.
Calvert-Lewin gives us a target forward & Rooney can drop to LF/RF or even CAM if needed.
Lookman & Vlasic add youth and pace.
While Mirallas & Lennon add experience (don't think they'll be here for too long though).
Then the likes of Onyekuru will slot perfectly into the system when he is back next year, and it can also easily be changed to a back 3, by shifting one player - into a 3-4-3.
Plus, the addition of a ST (Dolberg, Dembele or Batshuayi), a CB (De Vrij, Blind, Tah or Romagnoli) & a backup LB for Bainesy, who will eventually take his place (Bertrand or Chilwell) will smoothly slide right into the formation.
I trust Koeman & cant wait for this season... it's only just starting lads, let's have some patience.
27 Posted 14/09/2017 at 17:18:22
28 Posted 14/09/2017 at 17:28:42
I hope Davies, Sandro, Calvert-Lewin and Lookman get a chance to prove that pace and determination are more effective than old age and experience.
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