So European nights are back at Goodison as we face VfL Wolfsburg in our first group game of the campaign. The Germans have had a poor start to the season and we’ll hope to take advantage but we can expect a crowd of around 30,000
The team for this match is anyone’s guess because we don’t yet know how Roberto Martinez will approach the European campaign. The doubts from the weekend (Eto’o and Distin) will be available but the game will come too soon for Kone and Oviedo who i’d expect to play vs Swansea on Tuesday. Martinez referenced Hibbert being available which makes me dread the thought of playing a weakened team in such an important match. The likes of Robles, Alcaraz, Hibbert, Browning, Besic and Gibson could be in contention for their first starts of the season. Whether Robles plays or not is a big worry as I think we should be putting our best foot forward and playing our strongest possible team.
VfL Wolfsburg are only one of two teams in the Bundesliga who are not owned by it’s members. Under the 50% +1 rule, no individual or company can have a majority stake in the club. Wolfsburg, along with Bayer Leverkusen, are exempt as the clubs were born out of the sporting work teams of their owners. Volkswagen and Bayer respectively.
Kevin De Bruyne took a very similar path to Romelu Lukaku. A Belgian who was bought young by Chelsea, loaned out and then sold for profit. Wolfsburg bought him for £18m in the January transfer window and the attacking midfielder will pose a big threat to Everton linking up with the likes of Ivica Olić who will pose a lot much greater threat than the meek West Brom did on Saturday.
They have a had a similarly slow start to us with two points after three games however we managed to win out 4th so can come into the game with a bit more confidence.This seems like the perfect time to play the top seed but I think a lot of the result depends on what type of team Martinez will decide to put out. At this stage I’ll cautiously go for a 2-1 victory for Everton.
What will it mean?
As mentioned Wolfsburg are the top seed in the group so a win will mark a great step towards qualification. European football can be simplified by winning your home games and drawing your away games. If we win against Wolfsburg then you’d expect us to win against Lille and Krasnodar at Goodison which will surely ensure qualification. Lose tomorrow and it’ll put us on the back foot and playing catch up. The next match, away to Krasnodar, is between the away games vs Liverpool and Man Utd. A win against Wolfsburg may mean we could leave a few first team players at home for the long trip.