Everton's Euro jaunt set to finish with a whimper
Apollon can keep Toffees under wraps
Europa League Group E
BT Sport 2, 6pm Thursday
Sam Allardyce's sick note has excused him from the trip to Cyprus and you can hardly blame a man who has undergone heart surgery for wanting to bypass the last act of Everton’s miserable Europa League campaign.
The Toffees’ return to Europe has deteriorated rapidly from mildly nauseating to completely comatose and a fitting epitaph would be to back Apollon Limassol to administer the last rites at the GSP Stadium.
In Allardyce’s absence, Craig Shakespeare and Duncan Ferguson have flown out to Cyprus with a handful of starlets from the Goodison Park creche and no great expectations.
Big Dunc, of course, fancies he can win any battle while Shakespeare was patrolling the dugout in Champions League action just a few months ago, and professional pride means they will want to add three points to the pitiful one that Ronald Koeman and David Unsworth combined to accrue over five previous outings.
But Allardyce’s eyes and those of his senior professionals are focused on Sunday’s crunch showdown with Liverpool rather than this dead rubber in the eastern Mediterranean.
On the evidence of the squad who flew out of Merseyside on Wednesday, Everton can only field a young and inexperienced side, especially in defence. There are a few senior pros out there – Davy Klaassen, Morgan Schneiderlin and Kevin Mirallas, for example – but it looks like an age-group side and Apollon can make them suffer.
They were beaten 4-0 at Lyon last time round but the scoreline flattered the French side as Apollon had loads of chances – more than Lyon – and won nine corners.
They are unbeaten in an increasingly competitive Cypriot top flight, boast a handful of Brazilian players – one of whom, Liverpool loanee Allan, can barely get a game – and there are goals in Emilio Zelaya, a striker who spent a decade playing in Argentina’s top division.
Neither side has managed to keep a clean sheet in their respective campaigns making over 2.5 goals and both teams to score at 21-20 also worthy of consideration.
1pt 13-10 general
Croatian striker Antun Maglica is out with an ankle injury.
Sam Allardyce and most of his first-team squad haven’t made the trip to Cyprus. Seamus Coleman and Yannick Bolasie are still out.
Everton are without a win in their last 11 away matches.
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