Hajduk Split v Everton
Thursday 24 August, 20:00

Hajduk need to play the perfect game to survive

Hajduk Split had their chances at Goodison Park last week, but their failure to take any means that the concession of a goal on Thursday night would leave them needing at least four goals to progress to the group stage.

Hajduk have made a strong start to their domestic campaign, winning four of their six games in the Croatian top flight. However, they failed their biggest test so far, losing 3-1 at league leaders Dinamo Zagreb.

Like Everton, Hajduk have been keeping plenty of clean sheets in the Europa League. They didn't concede at all to Danish side Brondby over two legs, and they also shut out Levski Sofia at the Stadion Poljud in Split. They will surely need another clean sheet to avoid an exit here, and coach Joan Carrillo will have to strike the perfect balance between attack and defence.

Everton keen to maintain unbeaten start

Everton fans have rightly been excited by the club's transfer business, and after pushing Manchester City to the brink of a home defeat before having to settle for a 1-1 draw on Monday, confidence is high. The Toffees have taken four points from their two Premier League games, and they are in a very strong position as they head to Croatia.

Football romantics will have been heartened by the initial success of Wayne Rooneyon his return to his boyhood club. He has scored both of Everton's Premier League goals, and looks sharp. Michael Keane scored his first European goal in the first leg, and has helped his side rack up four clean sheets in five games. Youngster Dominic Calvert-Lewin has built on an excellent campaign with England at the U20 World Cup, and has seamlessly adapted to playing a wing-back role.

Boss Ronald Koeman was happy with his team's display in the first leg, although he felt it warranted a bigger lead to take into the second leg. He accused his team of dropping the tempo of the match unnecessarily in the second half, as they looked to keep control.

Despite the prospect of a trip to Chelsea on the horizon, Koeman is expected to field his strongest available team.

Toffees deserving favourites but not needing a win is off-putting

Everton are 2.30 to win this, and while that's tempting given their strong start to the season, it's a little short. Everton have no pressing need to push for a win here, and if the game is level going into the closing stages, it's not inconceivable that they would look to shut up shop entirely. If you fancy Hajduk to repeat their home wins over Levski and Brondby, Hajduk are trading at 3.40 for the win.

Low-scoring game likely

Given Everton's defensive solidity this season, I like the look of Under 2.5 Goals at 1.78, but I'm even more drawn to the bigger price of 2.02 for backing No in the Both Teams To Score market. That bet has paid out in all three of Everton's UEL qualifiers, and four of Hajduk's five European games this term.

Recommended Bet
Back No in the Both Teams To Score market at 2.02

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