It’s only preseason. But anytime you beat reigning Italian champions Juventus, it must feel pretty good.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez will be pleased as his side sealed a 6-5 win on penalties against Juve following a 1-1 tie in regulation.
Martinez continues his overhaul of the Toffees during their preseason tour of the US, as they compete in the International Champions Cup.
US national team goalkeeper Tim Howard read the script and played the hero at AT&T Park, diving to his left to save Federico Peluso’s penalty kick and hand Everton a match against LA Galaxy or Real Madrid who play in Phoenix this evening.
Back to Everton vs. Juventus, and youngster John Stones was a cheeky chap in the penalty shootout as he coolly completed a ‘Panenka’ penalty made famous by Juventus captain Andrea Pirlo… just after Pirlo had missed his spot kick.
But chipped penalties and Howard’s heroics aside, this was the first real opportunity to see how Martinez could set up Everton this season. And it looks as though a new formation will reign supreme at Goodison Park.
Ladies and gentleman, please welcome, the 3-4-3.
Everton’s new identity and attacking philosophy under Martinez should be in stark contrast to the rigid formations used by David Moyes for much of his time in charge. Martinez often prefers having three at the back and mixes up variations of the 3-5-2 and 3-4-3.
Last night, Everton lined up with Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin and youngster John Stones as the three central defenders. Leighton Baines played on the left of midfield, while Seamus Coleman played on the right. In midfield Darron Gibson and Marouane Fellaini were the central duo with Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar out wide to support Victor Anichebe as the lone front man.
This system is flexible and allows plenty of Everton’s best players to interchange and adopt different roles. For example if Fellaini wants to shift forward and support Anichebe, then either Baines or Coleman can slot into the middle and Pienaar or Mirallas can slot back into a midfield position.
Wigan played creative, exciting and open soccer under Martinez and it seems as though he will continue that mantra in his new job at Everton.
Okay, last night was only a friendly. But we gained plenty of knowledge on how Everton will set up to play in the Premier League this season.
Exciting times and exciting soccer are on the horizon for the Everton faithful.