Saturday, November 18, 2017

Prediction: Everton vs Hajduk Split

Verdict: Everton to win to nil

Best Odds: 4/5

Bookmaker: bet365

Following the 2-0 aggregate victory over Slovakian side Ruzomberok, Everton take on Croatian giants Hajduk Split in the Europa League play-offs. The Toffees are obviously the favourites to go through, but their opponents should not be underestimated having already played nine competitive fixtures this season.

Everton

Despite the fact that the competition for a top 4 finish in English Premier League has never been stronger, Everton seem to have decided to launch an assault on the Champions League berth, spending piles of cash this summer in an attempt to seriously reinforce the squad. Davy Klaassen, Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Sandro Ramirez, Wayne Rooney and Henry Onyekuru all arrived at Goodison Park, while the latest reports suggest that Everton have also agreed a £45 million deal for Gylfi Sigurdsson. Heavy summer spending is clearly a sign of ambition for the club that terribly lacked it in recent years, so no doubt that the fans finally have something to look forward to. It will take some time for new manager Ronald Koeman to rebuild the squad, but he has done pretty well so far, masterminding victories over Ruzomberok (1-0, 1-0) and Stoke City (1-0). And while those were not exactly world-class opponents, three clean sheets will surely hand the team an additional boost ahead of the clash with Hajduk Split and ensure the hosts head into the game in good spirits.

Team News

Veteran midfielder Gareth Barry is no longer part of the squad after joining West Bromwich, while Wayne Rooney could be rested.

Hajduk Split

Hajduk Split is one of Croatia’s two most famous clubs, but they have spent last decade or so in the shade of bitter rivals Dinamo Zagreb. The club have started investing more money into the playing squad of late, bringing foreign coaches and players in an attempt to become competitive on the European stage, but they have’t had a lot of success up to date. The Whites finished the previous league campaign in third place, some 19 points behind champions HNK Rijeka, but then did well to reinforce the squad over the summer. In came former Barcelona II defender Borja Lopez, former Napoli starlet Josip Radosevic, who returned for the second spell, as well as Andre Fomitschow, Edin Sehic and Ivan Pesic. Hajduk in turn enjoyed a bright start to the season, taking 10 points from first 5 fixtures of the new league campaign, while also doing well in Europe. The Whites recorded aggregate wins over Levski Sofia (1-0, 2-1) and Brondby (0-0, 2-0) to reach the Europa League play-offs, where they will now battle heavily reinforced Everton for a place in the next stage.

Team News

There have been no fresh selection worries for coach Joan Carrillo, but Josip Juranovic, Savvas Gentsoglou and Marko Futacs did not make the squad.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Everton yet to concede this season
  • Hajduk failed to progress to EL group stages in 6 successive campaigns
  • The Whites lost 11 of last 20 away fixtures in Europa League
  • Everton won seven of last nine EL fixtures (L2)
  • The Toffees also won six of last seven EL matches at home

Conclusion

Everton will not have an easy job against in-form Hajduk Split, but we do expect the Toffees to prevail in the end and create an advantage for the return leg. Given their strong performances at the back of late, we don’t expect to see the Whites score at Goodison Park.

Verdict: Everton to win to nil

Best Odds: 4/5

Bookmaker: bet365

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