Everton play the first leg of their Europa League qualifier against Croatian side HNK Hajduk Split as Thursday football returns this week yet again. Following their exciting summer business, the Toffees kept their end of the bargain intact winning all the important games, although not as extravagantly as the fans would have hoped.
Ronald Koeman is one win away from playing in the second-tier European tournament qualifying for which fetched him such a mammoth transfer kitty. And he isn’t losing it under any condition. Everton have never played against HNK Hajduk Split and the Croatian side remains an unknown threat for sure.
Predicted 3-4-2-1 Everton Line-up vs HNK Hajduk Split
Maarten Stekelenburg is expected to start under the bar. Despite Everton winning comfortably against Stoke City in the opening game, the Potters did force Jordan Pickford into some astounding saves in the game. With a huge game coming up against Manchester City, Koeman is expected to start the experienced Dutch custodian this time.
The back three is expected to remain unchanged mostly with Mason Holgate coming in place of Phil Jagielka. The 34-year-old wouldn’t be played twice in the span of four days as the former English international runs the risk of injuries. And injuries to Ramiro Funes-Mori and Seamus Coleman has also prevented the manager to go with a back four fully.
The other two options alongside Holgate would be Michael Keane and Ashley Williams.
The wing backs should remain unchanged with Leighton Baines and Dominic Calvert-Lewin leading the flanks. Everton have been effective in their three-man defence set-up so far although they haven’t been very overwhelming as many would have expected following their star-studded arrivals.
The two-man midfield was Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gueye against Stoke City, and we expect Koeman to start with Muhamed Besic this time in the defensive midfield in place of Gueye. The Senegal international relies tremendously on work rate and shouldn’t be overexerted unless very urgent.
The two attacking midfielders are likely to be Davy Klaassen and Tom Davies. It took an impeccable header from former Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney to get Everton the win over Stoke and Koeman knows the importance of the 31-year-old in the league. A man of his experience and quality can produce against the toughest of opponents and win them any game in the league. He is likely to be rested on most Thursday games, we expect.
The spearheading role could be taken by Sandro Ramirez. Although the Spaniard is yet to open his account in the domestic league, his quality in front of the goal is undeniable.