Apollon Limassol vs Everton Preview: Blues travel to Cyprus for Europa League dead rubber

Apollon Limassol vs Everton Preview: Blues travel to Cyprus for Europa League dead rubber

A preview of Everton’s final Europa League group game against Apollon Limassol.

Connor Bennett

Everton’s Europa League campaign was meant to be difficult but ultimately, progression from the group stages was expected as a minimum.

Instead, the Blues have realistically been eliminated since the second game in Group E and have been going through the motions since - fulfilling their fixtures and hoping a nightmare tournament would come to an end.

On Thursday night, a group stage to forget will finally come to a close as the Blues travel to Cyprus to take on Apollon Limassol, with a skeleton side expected to contain plenty of youngsters.

New Everton boss Sam Allardyce has not travelled with his squad to Cyprus due to a long-standing medical appointment. Former Leicester City boss Craig Shakespeare and Duncan Ferguson will take control from the touchline.     

Clash of the winless bottom feeders

If Everton fail to beat Limassol, they will have recorded the worst ever group stage campaign by an English side in in either the Champions League or Europa League.

The Blues would also be the first English side to never record a group stage match win in the Europa League if they cannot overcome Sokratis Sokratous’ side on Thursday night.

Both sides sit without a win in Group E but Apollon have gained three points from the previous five games - including a late draw on Merseyside that begun to spell the end of former Everton boss Ronald Koeman.

Koeman’s side fell behind early in the reverse fixture as Adrian Sardinero stroked home past Jordan Pickford after the visitors capitalised on an error by Ashely Williams.

Wayne Rooney struck back for the hosts minutes later and after a second-half Nikola Vlasic goal, they should have picked up their first three points of the group stage.

Instead, Hector Yuste headed home just before second-half stoppage time, moments after the Cypriot side had been reduced to ten men.

The game remains as Everton’s only point picked up in the group stages following four defeats - both at home and away to Atalanta and Lyon.

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Team News

Only seven senior players have made the trip to Nicosia -
Muhamed Bešić, Davy Klaassen, Ademola Lookman, Kevin Mirallas, Joel Robles, Morgan Schneiderlin and Nikola Vlasic with one thought ahead to Sunday’s Merseyside Derby at Anfield against Liverpool.

Sandro Ramirez, who has been linked with a move away from Goodison Park in recent days, had been expected to travel with the squad but hasn’t.

James McCarthy was also a possible contender to make the trip but the injured Irishman has also remained on Merseyside.