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Everton Lock Up Europa League Spot

Lost in the madness of the weekend, Everton, barring a 19 goal swing on the last day of the season, guaranteed themselves a place in Europe's second tier competition.

Harold Cunningham

The news was understandably secondary as City jumped into the driver's seat on Sunday, then Liverpool made everyone's Monday a little bit better by allowing Crystal Palace to overcome a 3-0 deficit to steal a point, likely ending the title race.

Said Roberto Martinez to evertonfc.com:

Getting into Europe is the next step for us. It's important you can embrace the challenge of the domestic league, but having that European experience is what we need. We need to get the name of Everton out in Europe again.

In March, Sean Lunt wrote here that the Europa League was an attainable and worthwhile goal for the club, while I questioned its effect on the club here in February.

Everton would almost be a lock to escape the group stage of the competition, and enter into the round of 32. In the knockout stage, the Toffees could end up with some memorable competition, with clubs like Napoli, Juventus, Lazio, Sevilla, Valencia, Porto, Benfica, and Lyon all making an appearance at that stage.

A deep run could certainly be attainable, and would be exciting for supporters and inspiring for the club, especially if it involved beating one or two of the teams mentioned above.

Still, the elephant in the room is how the competition might hurt the club's ability to remain competitive in the league on a week-to-week basis. If the side was perfectly healthy and managed to keep both Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry at the club, then it would certainly be possible for the team to put in constant competitive efforts at both.

Of course, those are two massive qualifiers, particularly the assumption of health. It is possible then, that the Europa League group stage will turn into an opportunity for young or out of favor players to stake a claim to more regular action.

If players such as Apostolos Vellios, Magaye Gueye, Shane Duffy, and Luke Garbutt can get opportunities to play in meaningful matches in the group stage, Everton's qualification will have been a positive, even if the club crashes and burns early in the competition.

If Roberto Martinez tries to push his players too hard by relying on his top 15 or so players in both though (which he admittedly has tried to avoid in just the league alone), then the Europa League could cause problems for the Toffees.