Thursday 27th July. 8:05PM. ITV4
The Premier League season may still be a two weeks away, but Everton are back in competitive action as they prepare to take on Slovakian side Ruzomberok in Europa League qualifying.
All eyes will be on Goodison Park thanks to the return of a legend. With the club back in European action after missing out for two seasons too, it should be a great occasion to welcome back competitive football involving Premier League superstars.
Bring it on!
Rooney’s Sweet Return To The Toffees
Once a Blue, always a Blue. Wayne Rooney is back at his boyhood club and, while he may have lost a slight spring in his step, the experienced star could have a massive impact on Merseyside this season both on the pitch and in the dressing room. After 13 years, it’ll be an emotional night to say the least.
While the headlines will be about England’s all-time leading scorer, Rooney is far from being Ronald Koeman’s only summer recruit. Whether Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, and Davy Klaasen will start is another question altogether, but the players that are selected will be eager to begin the campaign with a bang.
This is the earliest start to a season for the Toffees, but Goodison Park will be optimistic for the opening of what looks to be an exciting new chapter for the blue side of Merseyside. If Koeman build upon last term’s successes, it could be a very productive season indeed.
Everton will face much tougher tests during the season, but this is a great opening test to ease their way back into competitive football on what should be a memorable night for Rooney and the fans.
Minnows Out For An Upset
The Slovakian visitors might not be well known, but they’ve already seen off two teams to reach this stage of qualifying and are now just two more rounds away from reaching the group phase of this year’s competition.
After spending more than a decade away from European competition, this Europa League journey has already been pretty special for Ruzomberok. However, the distraction didn’t help Norbert Hrncar’s men as they lost their opening game of the domestic season last Sunday. Unfortunately, they’ll probably be set for another loss here.
In truth, Ruzomberok are void of any household names and they also sold last season’s top scorer over the summer. Having said that, their increased playing time over the past few weeks may play into their hands as they look to frustrate their far stronger opponents.
With a home leg to come, even a slender defeat would be seen as a great first leg result. In reality, though, if Everton play to their best, the contest could be virtually over before that second leg arrives.
Everton v Ruzomberok Betting
Unsurprisingly, it’s the Premier League club that are considered firm favourites for a win at Goodison Park. Everton are priced 1/8 with Bet365 while Ruzomberok are available at 16/1. Alternatively, the draw can be backed at 15/2.
Everton may take a little time to get into the swing of things, but they should be in for a comfortable evening against the Slovakians. If Pickford does get his competitive debut, he could be in for an easy time.
The Toffees should keep a clean sheet, and it’ll be very surprising if they don’t find the target too. We’re backing them to win-to-nil.
Koeman’s hosts will want to put this one to bed without needing a result in Slovakia, and there’s a good chance that they will.
The Toffees should enjoy the vast majority of the play, and that could result in tired legs for the visitors. With this in mind, odds of 15/8 on a penalty to be awarded looks more than fair. Don’t be surprised if the returning Rooney is the man to score it.