At long last, it appears as if the powers that be at Everton have rounded out the club's pre-season fixtures, with the official site confirming a friendly with German side SC Paderborn 07 to take place at the Benteler Arena on Saturday, August 9 at 3pm UK time, the final weekend before the season begins in earnest.
I have honestly never heard of this team before today, so some quick research was in order. Paderborn was formed out of the merger of two other clubs in 1985, and their first official match in the upcoming Bundesliga campaign will be their first ever in Germany's top division. Their home stadium, the Benteler Arena, was constructed in 2008 and seats 15,300 people. Last season they finished second in 2. Bundesliga, with new manager Andre Breitenreiter leading the club to automatic promotion in his first season in charge. I would guess the response from Paderborn's fan base towards Breitenreiter has been similar to how our own fan base has embraced Roberto Martinez. Turkish forward Mahir Saglik was joint top scorer in last season's 2. Bundesliga with fifteen goals, and Albanian attacking midfielder Alban Meha added twelve of his own.
Without a doubt, this year's pre-season program of Tranmere Rovers, Leicester City, FC Porto, and SC Paderborn 07 pales in comparison to last year's star-studded lineup that included Juventus, Real Madrid, and Valencia. There are also only four friendlies currently on the schedule, while seven were played last summer. However, another match could still be added to the fixture list, and this being a World Cup year certainly must have played into Martinez's thinking. If the team gets off to a slow start, the choice of pre-season opponents might be subject to some criticism from certain corners, but in the grand scheme of things it probably doesn't matter much. All that really matters is that the team is ready to play on August 16, and I trust Roberto to make sure that is the case.