Following on from Wednesday nights outstanding victory over Italian Champions Juventus, Everton are to play the mighty Real Madrid in tonight’s Semi Final of the International Champions Cup.
The match against Real Madrid presents the Blues with the toughest challenge of the summer, with the 9 times European Cup winners possessing one of the most talented squads in World football. Madrid are undoubtedly the biggest and most successful football club in the World, with annual revenues of over €400 million and 32 La Liga titles to their name.
The match is expected to be played in front of 52,000 fans at Dodger Stadium, the home of the legendary baseball team the LA Dodgers. This will be the first ever football match played at this historic venue and both teams will be well supported, especially with USA international goalkeeper Tim Howard in the Everton ranks. With the game scheduled for a 5pm kick off in the US to secure a Prime time TV audience it will be a late night for the Blues back in the UK, with the match kicking off at 1am Sunday morning.
Although the two sides have never met in competitive action, the Blues have faced Madrid in friendly action before, when in 1987 the teams contested the Santiago Bernabeu Trophy in Madrid. The Spaniards defeated Everton comfortably 6-1, but the Everton team that day bore little resemblance to the all conquering side that had just claimed the English title for the second time in three seasons. With many players out injured, new manager Colin Harvey put out a patched up team and the Toffees were no match for their illustrious opponents.
Real Madrid 6-1 Everton
Everton: Mimms; Harper, Watson, Ratcliffe, Pointon; Sheedy, Adams, Snodin, Power; Clarke (Ebbrell, 45′), Marshall.
Real Madrid are expected to name a strong side for the match, with a full strength squad having made the trip to America. Iker Casillas is expected to feature in goal after sitting out the match against LA Galaxy, with fellow World Cup winners Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso also likely to start. Real Madrid’s high profile and one true Galactico Christiano Ronaldo will play centrally with Kaka and Benzema in line for a starting spot.
The last time Everton played against a team managed by new Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti, Everton beat Chelsea 1-0 with the Italian manager losing his job as a result. That is an unlikely outcome from tonight’s encounter, but Martinez will be looking to get one over the master tactician.
Martinez will take the game seriously and will be keen to retain a winning formula, however he has already spoken about the bigger picture and continuing to build fitness ahead of the Norwich City game in 14 days time. With that objective in mind, Martinez is expected to make a number of changes, including a switch in formation back to 4-3-3. Jelavic is due a start and youngsters Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu will get at least 45 minutes to impress. Deulofeu will be eager to make an impact against Barcelona’s main rivals and fellow Spaniard Joel will compete with Tim Howard in goal with Martinez facing a big decision ahead of the season on his first choice goalkeeper.
The victorious team will progress to the Final against the winner of the second Semi Final featuring AC Milan and Chelsea, with the two losers meeting in the 3rd place play off. Everton can no longer face LA Galaxy, Valencia or Inter Milan who all lost in their opening fixtures.
Squad: Joel, Howard, Springthorpe; Hibbert, Baines, Ovideo, Coleman; Heitinga, Jagielka, Distin, Stones, Duffy; Gibson, Fellaini, Osman, Barkley, Pienaar, Mirallas, Naismith, Deulofeu; Jelavic, Kone, Anichebe, Vellios.