Europe has been Everton’s Shangri-La during a troubled second campaign under Roberto Martinez and they look certain to reach the next round at the expense of Young Boys.
Having beaten the Swiss side 4-1 in the land of the army knife, they look a decent 7/10 wager to complete the double at Goodison Park.
Martinez has already warned his charges that the kind of complacency that might allow the visitors hope of a 27/10-rated draw, or a worse still a 15/4-priced loss will not be tolerated.
Continental progression has served as a happy counterpoint to domestic struggles this term with Everton only six points above the relegation zone.
They have won a mere 23 % of their Premier League games this term in comparison to 57 % in the Europa League, with their sole loss in the latter sphere coming with knockout round qualification already assured.
Ahead of the round-of-32 second leg Gareth Barry suggested that the latter competition is now their main focus, as well as their chief hope of further European travel next term.
The Toffees are 14/1 joint-fourth favourites to win the Europa League after their dominant first-leg display and they must be taken seriously.
However, they run the risk of fiddling while Rome burns in the process – the deeper they go in the competition the more they risk diverting energies from a potential relegation battle.
Currently 66/1 for the drop, Everton are 500/1 to land a uniquely bittersweet Europa League/Premier League demotion double that is far from as implausible as those odds suggest.
It certainly wouldn’t be the first time Martinez had been unable to balance a successful cup run with the demands of avoiding the drop.
His side have won a mere three of their last 17 top-flight games and last tasted success at Goodison seven outings ago.
Two seasons ago Newcastle’s Thursday night exertions played their part as they finished four points above the third relegation spot a mere 12 months after they placed fifth.
The Magpies only reached the quarter finals, suggesting that if Everton do end up going all the way there is a clear and present danger of them going down the Premier League plughole.
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