Everton handed tough Europa League group alongside Lyon

Everton have been drawn against Olympique Lyonnais, Atalanta and Apollon Limassol in Group E in the Europa League.

The Blues will face a tough test to make it past the group stage but they can’t overlook the challenge ahead of them.

Whilst Atalanta, Apollon Limassol and Lyon will all present a great chance for the following Blue masses to soak in a couple of enjoyable away trips, Everton will face tough tests on the pitch, home and away.

Ronald Koeman’s side secured their place in the group stages following their 1-1 draw away at Hajduk Split, bookmarked by Gylfi Sigurdsson’s sensational second half strike from just inside the host’s half.

With results going the way of Koeman’s side, they found themselves in the second pot for the group stage draw, instead of pot three where they could have faced an even tougher group draw.

A look at who they’ll face

Lyon finished fourth in the French Ligue 1 last season, and reached the last four of last season’s Europa League. They were beaten by eventual finalists Ajax.

The French powerhouse will also host this season’s Europa League Final. They’ll be looking to go one step further than last season and are arguably Everton’s toughest rival in the group for qualification to the knockout stages.

Atalanta finished fourth in the Serie A last season and make their return to European competition after an absence of 26 years.

Under manager Gian Piero Gasperini, La Dea are an organised team. Despite the Italian boss being on the verge of dismissal last season, his side turned their season around to finish in the top four and secure their place back in Europe.

Apollon Limassol have followed a similar route to the group stages as Everton, coming through the early qualification stages.

The Cypriot side have already seen off Aberdeen and FC Midtjylland to reach the group stage.

They have struggled progressing past the group stage of the Europa League, finishing with two points in last season’s competition.

Progress will be tough but expected

Group E will present a difficult test for Everton but one they will be expected to overcome and move on in this year’s competition.

The last time the Blues played in the Europa League group stages, they progressed through a group containing Lille, Krasnodar and Wolfsburg.

Under Roberto Martinez, Everton only suffered one loss, 1-0 at home to Krasnodar in the final group game but progress had been secured so the Blues fielded a weakened team.