Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 11/8
Atalanta will want to impress on their return to Europe for the first time since 1991 and they have reason to hope for a bright start to the Europa League campaign. With their confidence shaken by back to back defeats to Chelsea and Spurs, Everton will have a point to prove in Reggio Emilia.
Atalanta haven’t enjoyed too much success since reaching the UEFA Cup quarter-finals in 1991, but the club’s investment in the youth academy has paid off big time. Orobici have produced countless Italy internationals over the years, ensuring a healthy revenue stream from player sales and they are finally in a position to keep hold of some key men. Guided by Gian Piero Gasperini, Atalanta were easily the surprise package of last season, finishing the campaign in fourth place and leaving sides like Lazio, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Fiorentina trailing in their wake. Many believe that the team will fall apart due to heavy interest in their key men, but while Franck Kessie and Andrea Conti left, Alejandro Gomez and Andrea Petagna remained, while in came Marten de Roon, Josip Ilicic, Andreas Cornelius and Timothy Castagne among others. Orobici did not have the best of starts having suffered back to back defeats to title rivals AS Roma and Napoli, but they recovered to beat Sassuolo last weekend, winning back some of the lost confidence ahead of the high-profile clash against Everton.
Joao Schmidt and Leonardo Spinazzola remain sidelined, but Josip Kurtic, Andrea Petagna and Remo Freuler will be recalled.
Buoyed by the heavy summer recruitment, Everton enjoyed a promising start to the season, winning Europa League qualifying ties against Ruzomberok and Hajduk Split, while defeating Stoke City and holding Man City to a 1-1 draw at Etihad Stadium. However, comfortable defeats to title contenders Chelsea and Tottenham showed that the Toffees may not be ready to mount a serious top 4 challenge just yet, and it’s now back to the drawing board for Ronald Koeman. The Dutch manager has no choice but to field a strong side in Italy as third straight defeat would create all sorts of problems, but he also needs to have one eye on Sunday’s Premier League game against Manchester United, which only adds to the worries. As new recruits Davy Klaassen, Sandro Ramirez and Gylfi Sigurdsson struggle for form at the moment, it is clear that Everton will need some more time to gel, but they don’t exactly have time to waste in either Europa League or the Premiership. It is important to note that the Toffees did not lose a single game in the 2014/2015 Europa League group stage, defeating Wolfsburg while sharing spoils with Krasnodar and Lille.
Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy, Ramiro Funes Mori, Yannick Bolasie and Ross Barkley continue to miss out, but Phil Jagielka and Mason Holgate should be recalled.
Key Factors to Consider
- Atalanta return to Europe after 26 years
- Orobici are unbeaten in five European games at home
- Everton were unbeaten in 2014/2015 EL group stage (W1 D2)
- The Toffees lost last two games to nil
- Atalanta lost one of last 13 matches on home soil (W8 D4)
Atalanta are a real force to be reckoned with at home and they completely outclassed star-studded Roma in the only defeat in last 13 home games. Everton, on the other hand, are struggling for form and will be thinking about the Man Utd clash, so we are tempted to back the Orobici here.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 11/8
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!