Everton have already topped Europa League's Group H and clinched a spot in the knockout round. The final fixture of the group stages will bring FC Krasnodar to Goodison Park in a mostly meaningless match. But while the match may not be important to the Blues' Europa League campaign, it does offer Roberto Martinez an opportunity to give a younger, more experimental side a chance to experience European football.
Martinez gave his press conference on Wednesday and revealed the majority of the starting lineup for the match against Krasnodar. Here's what he had to say:
"Joel Robles will play in goal and we're going to have Christian Atsu, Steven Pienaar, Arouna Kone, Bryan Oviedo, Conor McAleny, Antolin Alcaraz, Tyias Browning and Luke Garbutt playing because they have been working extremely well."
James McCarthy, Steven Naismith, and John Stones all remain on the injury list.
Krasnodar are at the bottom of Group H with no scenario for possible advancement. Though their Europa League campaign will come to an end on Thursday, they are currently in fourth place in the Russian Premier League. The Russian league takes a break from December to March, and this is Krasnodar's last fixture until the season starts again. It is unknown if they will bring a full-strength squad or choose to rest the first team.
The previous meeting in Russia saw Krasnodar go ahead with a goal from Brazilian forward Ari. Everton managed to salvage a draw with a late equalizer from Samuel Eto'o.
What to Watch For
With the recent disappointments against Manchester City and Hull City, Thursday's match is a good opportunity for the manager to rest weary players and offer a chance to those looking to make their way into the first team.
This match should be fun to watch as it offers a glimpse of the future of the club on a big stage. Kone and Oviedo both scored in a recent Under-21 match and their return to the first team has been anticipated. Browning debuted in the Merseyside Derby but has only seen the pitch once since then. Atsu will get another shot to impress. Luke Garbutt played well in the Wolfsburg away match and will get another chance to shut down the Krasnodar attack.
The Final Word
Both teams know their fate for the next round, so this will be a good time for Martinez to run out an experimental squad and see who makes an impression. If Krasnodar take the same approach, the home side should get a win to round out an excellent group stage effort.
Time and TV Info
Thursday, December 11. 20:05 GMT, 3:05 EST
TV Info (via livesoccertv.com)