Match Preview | Hajduk Split (A)

The relentless early fixture list continues Thursday night, this time its round two against our new Croatian sparring partners. We take a 2-0 lead over with us to Split, but the tie is by no means done and dusted. Last week’s 2-0 defeat was Hajduk’s first in this year’s Europa League, having won three and drawn one of the previous four with three clean sheets to their name. They have already overcome some tough opposition in the forms of Danish side Brondby and Bulgarian side Levski Sofia. Although it is worth noting, Hajduk’s history at the qualifiers hasn’t been great, as they failed to get through in the past six seasons. Anyone got that ‘Here comes Everton’ meme to hand….?

Ah, I’m kidding, this new Everton don’t entertain that shithouse behaviour anymore. Coming off a solid away point at Manchester City Monday night, the team morale must be high. The team are playing better and better each game, Rooney has a new lease of life, the young lads are doing well and the Defence is so tight when they go the toilet they use both sides of the toilet paper…(see kids listen to your Dads joke, they come in handy someday).

It’s difficult to predict the team news right now. Koeman is one game away from taking the Toffees into the group stages of the Europa league, therefore despite another game Sunday against Chelsea, I believe he will go with his strongest side again. I’m expecting Pickford to start, a back three of Jagielka, Williams and Keane. With Schneiderlin expected to be suspended for the time being, he will almost certainly start tonight, along with Gueye. I expect Martina and Baines to play the wing back positions with a front three of Klassen, Sigurdsson, both of whom started on the bench Monday, and the man of the moment Rooney leading the attack.

How we predict Everton will line up on the night

It’s vital this game is treated as a 90-minute match and the first leg lead is put to the back of the players mind. Despite being much better than our opposition, a two-goal lead can quite often be the most dangerous of leads in football. If Hajduk manage to nick a goal early on, the pressure will be on. Game management is key. An early away goal would all but kill the tie and indeed any hope within the stands or on the pitch of an unlikely comeback. I’m sure Ronald is a regular reader of our match previews, so you know the drill Ronald, it’s a big, but winnable game. It’s early in the season, us Evertonians aren’t sufficiently warmed up just yet for any stress or heartache, so please Ronald…. a nice easy watch Thursday and onto the group stages we go.

Come on you blues!

– David (@DAHughes92)