Everton are in Italy to play against Atalanta in their first game of the group stages of the Europa League. Before the game, manager Ronald Koeman spoke to the media about tomorrow’s clash, starting with the Blues’ poor performance over the weekend.
“The second half we lost a lot of belief, we lost a lot of confidence. I think we didn’t play with the right aggression. I understand if you play football at home, straight after halftime you get killed by the third goal.
“It’s really difficult and we spoke about this. The players, they know, they are not stupid - the second half is not what we expect from ourselves.
“That is the nicest part of football, if you lose the game, if you;re not happy with your performance, you get the next opportunity in three-four days, and that is why I am confident about tomorrow.”
When asked if he was taking the competition seriously, especially after Manchester United won the title last season.
“I take this competition seriously which we have shown already. It will be no different tomorrow. Like always we will start with a strong team and after last weekend we need to react.
“Every manager in the past took every game seriously. Maybe they rotated more than other clubs in this competition. It is difficult mentally to play Thursday and the weekend, even though its the same days of rest (as Wednesday-Saturday). But it’s a different mentality.
“Now everyone realizes that its a tough competition, and even the clubs that drop out of the Champs League will play in the Europa. First focus is tomorrow, then the next home game, step by step.
“It’s no different for me, I like to be part of Europe. You always want to play in the Champions League, but if not, the Europa League is also an important competition.”
Koeman also added that he found Italian teams always challenging to play against.
“From my experience, it is not about the name of the Italian team. They are all difficult to beat and I have a lot of respect for Atalanta and what they achieved last season. It will be a difficult game. Rooney has travelled and he is part of the squad for tomorrow.”