Count down to kickoff

In two hours, Everton will make its first appearance in European football since 1996, and its first in the top European club competition in something like 35 years. Unfortunately, we are paired against the outstanding Spanish side, Villareal, s superior team. If we prevail in the two-match home/away series, we will advance to the group stage and play at least six more matches against Europe’s top clubs. If we fail to advance, we’ll drop into the lesser European club competition where we will probably feel more at home.
UPDATE: The match has started Soccernet says it’s worth around $15 million to the winner (the team with the best combined score over the two matches)
FINAL UPDATE: Everton 1 Villareal 2. It will be very tough to reverse that result in Spain. But my main thought is similar to my main thought about the fading Washington Nationals — after three and a half decades, the important thing is that the games are being played.

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