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Tactical Analysis of Everton vs Atalanta First Leg
Steklenberg, Baines, Jagielka, Keane, Holgate, Besic, Scheiderlin, Sigurdsson, Rooney, Vlasic, Calvert-Lewin
Berisha, Palomino, Toloi, Masiello, Cristante, Castagne, de Roon, Hateboer, Gomez, Petagna, Freuler
Analysis and Summary
Lay down. Try not to cry. Cry a lot. That describes my feelings as an Everton fan for this game. Spoiler: Everton were awful. Not just bad. Not just "not great". Horrible.
Everton played in a 4-2-3-1, trusting Dominic Calvert-Lewin to lead the line. The main problem with Everton is the complete and utter lack of energy. Calvert-Lewin is the real deal....he's a fantastic young player full of energy, pace, and positioning. But he can't lead the line for the team that Koeman wants.
Everton either need to completely revamp the way that they play, using Sandro as a false nine with Lookman and Calvert-Lewin running off the shoulder, or they need to trust Oumar Niasse to lead the line and be the strong pivot that every Everton player needs. We need someone who can have the ball rolled into their feet and hold up play. Only the Lord in Heaven knows what Niasse did to make Koeman hate him so much, but he needs a run.
Everton had no energy, no creativity, and no ideas. There were periods of good possession, but the ball was pinged backwards and sideways with no penetration. Even Sigurdsson, supposed to be the creative spark in the team, looks lost in space.
Atalanta, however, were electric. Castagne and Gomez ripped Everton to pieces, attacking on the break, using the flanks well, and bursting towards the goal to drop the ball back to the center. Holgate couldn't cope with Gomez, and Jagielka was so, so, so out of his depth.
Atalanta's defense was comfortable, pushing Sigurdsson off the ball and marshaling Calvert-Lewin into submission.
Star Players and Man of the Match
Atalanta's Gomez was his team's star player and man of the match. His relentless runs, energy, positioning, and clever play ripped Everton's defense to ribbons. He assisted a goal and scored a wicked curving screamer to put Atalanta 2-0 up. A marvelous display.
Everton's star player (well, least bad player) was Wayne Rooney. He offered nothing going forward, other than a clever chip in the first ten minutes that almost caught Atalanta's keeper out, but he worked his tail off in defense, tracking back, making tackles, and heading corners out. If every Everton player had tried as hard, we might have given a good account of ourselves.
Atalanta will find it hard to finish in the top four of the Serie A again this year, with heavy investment by teams like Milan, but they may well go far in the Europa League. They seem more than a match for Lyon and will destroy Apollon. Expect them to top the group.
Everton are in a genuine crisis, however. Koeman will either have to trust Niasse or completely revamp his tactics if Everton are to avoid being relegation candidates before they can get a new striker in January. It looks extremely unlikely that they will be able to get any sort of a result against Lyon, and even Apollon will challenge them at this level of despondency.
It may well be a long season for Everton, after such an exciting transfer season.