SC Paderborn 07 vs. Everton: What the Toffees Learned in Pre-Season Friendly
Everton's pre-season struggles continued with a 3-1 defeat in Germany against Paderborn.
The Toffees took the lead on 12 minutes through Chris Long but found themselves pegged back just 60 seconds later via a penalty.
Moritz Stoppelkamp sent Tim Howard the wrong way after the American was penalised for a foul on the edge of the area.
From then on, Paderborn—promoted to the Bundesliga at the end of last season—looked far more fluent and deservedly struck a pair of second-half goals.
Roberto Martinez watched on as Marvin Ducksch and Daniel Bruckner condemned the Toffees to another pre-season defeat.
Here's a look at some Everton-related talking points to emerge from this contest.
Sloppy Pre-Season Continues
It's always difficult to gauge the relevance of pre-season results.
Yes, it's important to build cohesion and get into the habit of winning, but players' fitness and longevity over the course season are far bigger priorities.
Martinez has stated how he never prepares for an opponent as he would during a Premier League campaign, which, given his meticulous approach to the game, will cause a significant drop in standards.
In essence, pre-season becomes more of a training session and more about individuals than a team effort—something that was very evident in this performance.
Even so, having three losses, two draws and 10 goals conceded in five games isn't exactly the best platform for starting a new season. There's been a lack of overall fluency in Everton's play, and very few players have appeared sharp enough to begin the new campaign in form.
The continuing absence of Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku is also a worry.
Of course, three points against Leicester City next week will make this poor run of results completely irrelevant. Until then, however, fans will be concerned ahead of the approaching season.
Chris Long Is Showing Promise
One of the few positives for Everton was a fine individual strike from Chris Long.
The academy graduate collected a pass from Leighton Baines, made space for himself with a sharp touch and fired in a well-placed finish to give his side the lead.
While he did little else in the game, this was a typical contribution from the 19-year-old. A slight but speedy striker, Long comes alive in the penalty area and showed his predatory instincts with this clinical finish.
Given the strength of the starting line-up, his initial selection showed just how highly his manager values the youngster. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him included in some early-season squads.
Muhamed Besic Must Curb His Natural Aggression
It's not often a player receives a yellow card in a friendly, let alone after just two minutes of the match, yet that was the scenario for Muhamed Besic.
The Bosnian was far too rash during the game's opening exchanges and, astonishingly, committed his fifth foul with just 15 minutes on the clock. In a Premier League fixture, he would have almost certainly been dismissed before half-time.
Besic clearly plays his best football on the edge but must work hard to keep his game on the right side of reckless.
The sooner he picks up a yellow card, the harder it will be for him to play his natural game, which—in the past two friendlies—has been exciting his new set of supporters.
This was a step back for the Bosnian and a sign of the work he must do to adapt to a new league.
Defensive Concerns, Especially at Right-Back
One of Everton's main worries during pre-season has been the steady flow of goals conceded: Three more in this game makes it 10 in just five games played.
In truth, Paderborn could have scored more against what was Everton's strongest available defence—excluding Antolin Alcaraz.
Sylvain Distin will return against Leicester, but elsewhere, Tim Howard, Tony Hibbert, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines are likely to start next week, shielded by Gareth Barry, as they were in this game.
To secure a result against Leicester next week, each player must make drastic improvements both individually and as a unit. The Foxes will be encouraged by the amount of times the German side created a chance.
Hibbert was especially unconvincing at right-back. He was caught out of position a number of times while offering very little going forward.
With just four Premier League starts in the past two seasons, the veteran seems a long way short of his previous standards.
His inclusion, however, makes him the favourite to start in place of Seamus Coleman, should the Irishman remain injured for the start of the season.
If that's the case, he will be regularly targeted by Leicester.
Big Seven Days on Merseyside
Martinez faces an important few days ahead of the Premier League's return.
Playing their shortest pre-season schedule since 1996, the Toffees currently appear a little short of preparation.
Due to World Cup commitments, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas have yet to feature this summer and face a race to be fit for selection.
These past few results have emphasised just how key both individuals will be this season, and each must work hard to be in contention.
A slow start last season was arguably the difference between a Champions League finish and the Toffees' final fifth-place standing.