Everton have been excellent in the Europa League this season and some have accused Roberto Martinez of prioritising the competition above the Premier League, which has left the club in a fragile position domestically. Last season the club came really close to qualifying for the Champions League, but this season the opportunity to qualify for Europe’s premier competition through the Europa League may have appealed to Martinez. They have put in some brilliant performances in Europe this season and the tie against Young Boys gave them an opportunity to progress and after the first leg, that looks extremely likely. The Toffees have underperformed this season, but the Europa League gives them the chance to salvage their season.
At the weekend, Everton were once again disappointing in the league, only managing to draw against bottom of the league Leicester. The fans are starting to worry about relegation and that isn’t surprising given the differences between this season and last. The Europa League has had an effect on several clubs in the past with Tottenham, Newcastle and Swansea all suffering. The Merseyside club don’t have a huge squad and that has been tested this season. However, they could still have a successful season and a lot of that depends on this competition.
Young Boys are having a more successful season than their hosts, with the Swiss club currently second in the league, just five points behind Basel. They are in great form in the league and they will relish the opportunity to play in England, even with the current scoreline in the tie. They had a morale boosting win against table toppers Basel at the weekend and they scored four goals. They might come at Everton on Thursday and with the hosts’ defensive problems, the result may not be as straight forward as many expect.
- Everton have scored 14 goals in the Europa League this season which works out as two goals per game. This is even more impressive when you consider that they have failed to score in two of these matches.
- This will be Young Boys’ tenth match in the Europa League and have only failed to score in two of those matches.
The Belgian was poor at the weekend, missing numerous chances when he got through on goal, but last week in Switzerland, he scored a superb hat-trick. He certainly has the quality to help Everton go a long way in this competition. He has long been destined for great things in the game, but the next couple of years will be crucial for his career as he will be hoping to play for a Champions League club. It didn’t work out at Chelsea and Lukaku will know that he will need to be consistent at Everton before another move like that will come along. He has been disappointing this season, having only scored seven goals in 26 league matches for Everton, which may be a direct consequence of the forward being overused at the club as Martinez doesn’t really have another option up front. In the Europa League he has scored four times and has one assist, and he will be hoping he continues to impress in this competition as it is highly respected around Europe, even if English clubs don’t give it much importance. He is still only 21, with a lot of years ahead of him in the sport, and with his powerful frame, pace, strength and composure, he could develop into one of the best strikers in world football. However at this time, how good he will become is up to him as he has the attributes, he just needs to gain consistency in his game, especially in front of goal as he has been wasteful at times this campaign.
The Frenchman is one of the more well known players in the BSC Young Boys squad having played in France for the majority of his career. He is very good in the air, which could cause Everton problems this week, especially if Martinez chooses to rotate his defence to keep them fresh for the league, which he may do given his side is ahead comfortably on aggregate. The forward has been in very good form recently, scoring nine goals in his last ten matches in all competitions, with his tally for the season being an impressive 13 from 21 matches across the Europa League and the Swiss Super League. His experience at PSG will mean that Hoarau is used to playing in stadiums like Goodison Park. Young Boys will come into this game with little expectation, but they will be keen to win the match, even if they can’t turn the 4-1 deficit around and their striker is key to their hopes.
Bryan Oviedo could return for the hosts after a hamstring problem. Aidan McGeady, Tony Hibbert, Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman are all going to miss out but should all return next month. Martinez may choose to rotate his squad this Thursday given the scoreline in the first leg. This fixture isn’t a priority as even with a weakened side, Everton should be able to quality with comfort.
Young Boys are likely to play the same side from their victory against Basel, and if they do this will mean Scott Sutter, who has English roots, will only manage to get a place from the bench.
This match is very hard to predict given the motivation just won’t be there for Everton and Roberto Martinez could make wholesale changes. However Young Boys won’t roll over again, especially after such a huge win against top of the table Basel at the weekend. If they score early, it could be interesting, but the reality is that they require at least four goals to even stand a chance of qualifying and it is difficult not to see Everton scoring. I think there will be goals in this match, but as for the tie, Everton are already through in my eyes, Young Boys don’t have the quality to replicate what the English side did a week ago.
Everton 2-2 Young Boys