Everton will continue their Europa League campaign when they play against Swiss side Young Boys on Thursday evening. The last 32 tie will be a tough test for Roberto Martinez’s side, especially as Young Boys have won their last seven home matches in European competition. In their five European matches so far this season, they have conceded only once, and racked up thirteen goals of their own, beating Italian giants Napoli in the process.
Everton’s form has been inconsistent to say the least, and the Toffees will be looking to build on their defensive strengths after conceding just one goal, a late Willian winner at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea, in their last four matches.
The Toffees could welcome back long-term absentee and fan favourite Leon Osman after a lengthy absence. The Everton man will be involved in the reserves this week, though it is yet to be seen if he makes the trip to Switzerland. Leighton Baines should be fit to play after his recent injury, as too Aiden McGeady if called upon. Tim Howard has also overcome injury worries and featured against Chelsea, so could also make his return to European football.
Young Boys will resist the temptation to rest players ahead of their top of the table clash against FC Basel on Sunday.
- Young Boys name was a witty riposte by their founders, after watching Basel’s BSC Old Boys in action.
- Swiss international full-back Scott Sutter who plays for Young Boys was born in Enfield, and grew up supporting Tottenham.
- Young Boys’ last home defeat in Europe was a 5-3 defeat to Everton’s rivals Liverpool in 2012/13.
- Kevin Mirallas is Everton’s leading scorer in the Europa League with two goals.
- The Toffees topped their qualifying group with eleven points, one point ahead of German team Wolfsburg.
- Everton have not been further than the last 32 since 2007/08 when they made the last 16 under David Moyes.
Hoarau has scored five goals for Basel in five Europa League matches so far this campaign. Signed on a free at the beginning of the season, the Frenchman has lit up the Stade de Suisse and plays at the tip of an adventurous 4-2-3-1 formation. The Everton defence will have to work exceptionally hard to successfully shackle the powerful striker. Hoarau also has one assist, a small indication of his unselfish nature, and possesses an impressive work rate.
Much has been made of Lukaku’s comments recently, about leaving for a ‘top-class’ club. The twenty-one year old Belgian may have to up the ante to attract the attention of these clubs, after a disappointing return on the £28 million splashed out on him by the Everton Board. Lukaku has scored ten goals so far this season, but is yet to recapture the form shown in his loan spells at Goodison Park and The Hawthorns. He may choose the European stage to display his credentials as a top marksman, starting on Thursday night.
Everton’s confidence is low at the moment, and an early goal for Young Boys in front of their home crowd could really put the cat amongst the pigeons. I’m going to go for 2-1 to Young Boys, with a crucial away goal scored for the Toffees.