Dynamo Kiev v Everton
Thursday March 19, 18:00
Live on ITV4
It's been a frustrating season for Everton and their fans, but things have picked up of late. The Toffees eased their Premier League relegation fears with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Newcastle on Sunday, and they have the advantage in this Europa League tie thanks to a 2-1 victory over Dynamo at Goodison last week. Goals from Steven Naismith and Romelu Lukaku turned the game on its head, after Oleg Gusev had given the Ukrainian giants an early lead.
In the last 32, Dynamo lost 2-1 away to Guingamp, before turning the tie back in their favour with a 3-1 victory at the Olympic Stadium. They will attempt something similar against Everton, and I expect them to play on the front foot, even though a 1-0 win would be sufficient to see them progress.
Dynamo crushed struggling Illichivets 5-0 at the weekend, and they are unbeaten on home soil this season, winning 12 out of 14 games in all competitions. Serhiy Rebrov's men have won all four of their Europa League home games.
Although Everton have generally reserved their best performances for the Europa League, I fear this may prove a bridge too far. Everton's away form in the Premier League has been atrocious of late - they have lost their last three away games without scoring, and they have lost eight of their last nine on the road. They have also managed just 14 goals in 15 away games in the league.
Everton did really well to win 4-1 at Young Boys of Berne in the last 32, but this is a big step up, and there's only so many times you can significantly raise your game above your general performance level. Eventually you get found out, and against a Dynamo Kiev side that is used to winning at home, this could be the moment.
In terms of early team news, Everton could welcome back Leighton Baines from injury at left-back, while Gareth Barry is back after a domestic suspension. Dynamo are still without the suspended Younes Belhanda, but Serhiy Rybalka is back after a ban.
I expect Dynamo to win the second leg, and if we're thinking of backing them to do that at 2.1211/10, we might as well just back them to qualify at 2.546/4 instead. Only a 2-1 scoreline would take it into extra-time, and I don't expect a 3-2 or 4-3 result that would put Everton through on away goals.
Back Dynamo Kiev to qualify at 2.546/4