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Solid Everton should keep a clean sheet

Europa League playoff first leg
8.05pm Thursday

Everton have kept it clean this season and they can make it four successive shutouts when Hajduk Split head to Goodison Park for the first leg of their Europa League playoff.

Hajduk are a famous name of the past in Europe, reaching the European Cup/Champions League three times as well as the semi-finals of the Uefa Cup and Cup Winners' Cup, but they were last champions of Croatia in 2005.

It has been a barren time and they are unlikely to get anything from this trip to Merseyside, particularly with dangerous forward Marko Futacs injured.

Futacs was the top scorer in Croatian football last season with 18 goals in 26 appearances as Hajduk finished third in the HNL. The Split side were 19 points behind champions Rijeka and Everton are worth backing to take a lead to Croatia without conceding an away goal.

Everton beat Ruzomberok 1-0 in both legs of their last Europa tie and then repeated the trick against Stoke in Saturday's Premier League opener.

The Toffees look solid defensively and are helped by their robust midfield duo of Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gueye.

James McCarthy and Ross Barkley have joined the list of long-term absentees which is headed by Seamus Coleman, while Sandro Ramirez is rated doubtful by Everton boss Ronald Koeman.

However, Wayne Rooney got off the mark against Stoke and Dominic Calvert-Lewin is another threat who can help the Toffees to move a step closer to the Europa League group stages.

No UK broadcasters have taken up the TV rights to show the match.

Recommendation
Everton to win to nil

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Match in Focus

18:00 TODAY BT2

Cologne v Arsenal

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Cologne are bottom of the Bundesliga with two points
Expert verdict
Arsene Wenger has sent out his reserve players throughout this Europa League campaign and that's unlikely to change now Arsenal have secured their spot in the last 32. Cologne are having a shocking season so even a makeshift Gunners outfit could come out on top and Alex Iwobi, fresh from a double for Nigeria against Argentina, can notch first.