Everton defender Leighton Baines has expressed his delight at the club being able to progress to the next stage of the Europa League with relative ease.
Everton returned to this Premier competition in Roberto Martinez’ first season in charge. They almost qualified for the Champions League after a spectacular run of form towards the end of the season. This season, they may be struggling much more than expected, but Everton’s performances in the Europa League have been impressive nonetheless. From this season onwards, winners of the Europa League will get a place in the next season’s Champions League.
This is a huge bonus and incentive for Everton to try and win the competition, which will feature the likes of Liverpool going into the knockout stages. Everton’s league form may not be consistent, but Baines says that the club are already looking forward to playing in the knockout stages of the European competition. The Merseyside outfit will be coming up against Young Boys of Switzerland. Their opposition have not been doing well in the Swiss league and currently trail leaders FC Basel by a whopping eight points. A big advantage for the Swiss team will be the winter break, which will provide them some much needed time to get the squad together.
“We’ve qualified for Europe and done well thus far.We’re excited to go into next year and do as well as we can in the Europa League. It’s a competition that we have embraced. I’ve got three children and we still have a great time. When you’re sitting around the dinner table and your parents and partner are having drink, you sort of have to draw the line there. But it doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. We come in, train for a few hours on Christmas morning and go back to our families,” said Baines about the Europa league and Christmas schedule in England.