Attempt to adjust your digibox after hearing the commentator suggest Tottenham were favourites to win the Europa League during ITV4’s coverage of their insipid draw in Belgrade?
You were not alone.
The incongruousness between what the microphone man was telling his audience and the football being played was stark, even before Everton turned up to cut Wolfsburg down to size in the second half of the double bill.
Yet even after the first round of fixtures of the tournament proper…
Everton are 20/1 in the outright betting, three points longer than Spurs.
Yes, despite putting down a vibrant opening showing at odds with the Lilywhites’ lacklustre showing in Serbia, it’s the Toffees who are the longer price.
There is little doubt Roberto Martinez is taking the competition seriously.
Just take a look at the line-up the Spaniard sent out to play Wolfsburg, it was exactly the same as the one which harvested all three points at the Hawthorns five days previously.
Hugo Lloris was the only one of Mauricio Pochettino’s men to start in both their last two games, which speaks volumes for a man who had the following choice words to say on the tournament during his Southampton tenure:
‘The Europa League is a competition that I don’t look forward to because it kind of means that you haven’t been good enough to actually make it in to the Champions League…so it’s not a competition that is attractive to me.’
“I think it is a competition that kills you in the sense that there are a lot of mid-table teams that put a lot of effort into the Europa League and then are not able to do anything in the league, they are not able to compensate for that bad run of form in the league so it brings them down.”
The Toffees have a track record of frustrating the biggest teams domestically.
Everton have a lengthy past history of intransigence against Premier League bluebloods that will stand them in great stead as they take on leading lights from across the continent.
The same cannot be said for a Spurs side who shipped 27 goals in eight games against last season’s top-four sides.