Best Odds: 2/5
Heavily reinforced Everton kick off the new season with a Europa League qualifier against Ruzomberok, Slovakian side that already eliminated Vojvodina and SK Brann in the first two qualifying stages. The visitors should be in better shape as they already have five competitive fixtures under their belt, but the Toffees remain hot favourites to claim maximum points.
Everton have been punching below their weight for quite some time, partly due to the fact that the club owners refused to spend considerable funds on new players, but the fans finally have something to look forward to this summer. Namely, the club board decided to give the team the best possible chance of mounting a top 4 challenge, having recruited manager Ronald Koeman as well as the likes of Wayne Rooney, Davy Klaassen, Sandro Ramirez, Michael Keane, Jordan Pickford and Henri Onyekuru. The new boss now needs to try and rebuild the squad as soon as possible and get them playing to their potential, which will not be easy, but this is where Europa League qualifying stages could prove beneficial. The competition will provide a perfect setting for Koeman to test his new players in competitive fixtures and hopefully help the team reach top form earlier than their Premier League competitors. Chances are that the new manager will field a strong side on his Goodison Park debut, although not all new signings are in the best shape at the moment.
Summer signing Jordan Pickford may not be risked having recently joined pre-season training, while Yannick Bolasie remains sidelined.
After helping Man Utd win the Europa League last season, Wayne Rooney is looking forward to representing Everton in Europe for the first time.
Established back in 1906, MFK Ruzomberok is one of Slovakia’s oldest clubs that have enjoyed the most successful period of its existence in the 21st century. Ruza won their first ever top flight trophy in 2006, while they have since finished in top 7 every single season. Third-place finish from last campaign saw them make it to Europa League qualifying stages, where they managed to eliminate Serbian side Vojvodina and Norwegian outfit SK Brann. The interesting thing is that Ruzomberok lost the first leg in both ties, only to record 2-0 wins in return matches, beating Brann on the road last time out. With the focus clearly on their Europa League campaign, Ruza lost their opening league fixture against Zlate Moravce as head coach Norbert Hrncar decided to rest some of his regular starters. Prior to the current campaign, Ruzomberok hadn’t enjoyed a great deal of success in Europe, defeating Djurgarden and FC Belshina, while losing to Troyes, CSKA Moscow and Club Brugge, so chances are they will find it difficult to match star-studded Everton at Goodison Park.
Having rested quite a few first team regulars at the weekend, coach Norbert Hrncar is expected to field his strongest XI at Merseyside.
Key Factors to Consider
- Everton have won five of last six European games at home
- Ruzomberok ended a six-match winless run on European travels
- Everton heavily reinforced over the summer
- Wayne Rooney in line to make first European appearance for the Toffees
- Ruzomberok lost first leg matches against both Vojvodina and Brann this term
Fans at Goodison Park will be eager to see the new and improved squad for the first time this season and chances are that the hosts will have plenty of motives to produce a good performance. Ruzomberok may be in better shape at the moment, but they will struggle to get anything from the match.
Best Odds: 2/5
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