Everton’s 3-1 defeat of Swiss outfit BSC Young Boys on Thursday night saw the Toffees’ qualify for this year’s Europa League round of 16, where they face the best Ukraine have to offer in Dynamo Kiev.
The Blues’ have been very impressive in this year’s competition, losing just one of their 8 games so far, and while they might not initially be seen as one of the front-runners to go all the way, should they now be considered as real contenders for the trophy?
The Merseyside club finished top of what seemed a difficult group, beating German giants Wolfsburg, who currently lie second in the Bundesliga, twice along the way, and even managing a clean sheet when the two sides met in Germany. Only Kuban Krasnodar were able to overcome Everton, who had already qualified at this point.
Martinez loves cup competitions
In addition to this, in Roberto Martinez they have a manager who has proven capable to bring the best out of his teams in cup competitions, none more so than when he lead his Wigan Athletic side to FA Cup glory, beating Manchester City in the 2012/13 final.
Though they have been disappointing domestically this season, finding themselves lying in 12th place in the Premier League and having been knocked out of the FA Cup in just the third round at the hands of West Ham United, it could be argued that this could have a positive effect on their European campaign.
Dynamo represent significant test
Dynamo Kiev, who are currently 5 points clear of Champions League outfit Shaktar Donetsk in the Ukranian Premier League, are the team who now lie between Everton at the next round. If The Toffees are able to overcome this challenge, they will certainly be seen more as potential Europa League winners.
With the goal-scoring ability of star striker Romelu Lukaka, Belgian wizard Kevin Mirallas and Scotsman Steven Naismith, along with the defensive experience of Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin and Gareth Barry, Everton seem one of the most balanced teams left in the competition.
How far this can take them is something that only time will tell.