Everton and UNAM Pumas go head to head in the Florida Cup this evening (11pm UK time) as Rafael Benitez aims to extend his perfect start to life with the Toffees.
After dispatching Accrington Stanley then Blackburn in friendlies at Finch Farm earlier this month, Everton flew out to Orlando where they beat Millonarios on penalties at the weekend.
Everton vs UNAM Pumas live stream
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Is Everton vs UNAM Pumas on TV?
- UK: Premier Sports 1
- US: ESPN Deportes
Scoreline prediction: Everton 3-0 UNAM Pumas
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Everton vs UNAM Pumas build-up & previous line-ups:
It’s been a summer of change at Everton after Carlo Ancelotti quit to re-join Real Madrid at the beginning of June. It sparked a protracted saga to hire Ancelotti’s successor, with the club eventually confirming the controversial appointment of former Liverpool boss Benitez.
Benitez has since added depth to his squad through the free signings of Andros Townsend, who he worked with at Newcastle, and Asmir Begovic. The Toffees have also signed Bayer Leverkusen winger Demarai Gray for a snip at £1.7m as Benitez plots an assault on the Premier League’s top six after last season’s home form cost them a stab at Europe.
All three new signings played their part in Sunday’s shootout win over Millonarios, with Townsend striking the bar from range before Gray’s penalty forced the game beyond the regulation 90 minutes. But it was Begovic who played the decisive role, denying Ricardo Marquez in the shootout before stepping up to convert the winning penalty.
- Everton (vs Millonarias): Begovic, Coleman, Holgate, Godfrey, Digne, Doucoure, Allan, Iwobi, James, Townsend, Kean
- UNAM Pumas (vs Atlas): Gonzalez, Mozo, Galindo, Freire, Rodriguez, Moreno, Lopez, Alvarez, Meritao, Saucedo, Dinenno
Player to watch: Demarai Gray (Everton)
It’s fair to say that Benitez’s early moves in the transfer market have not got Evertonians licking their lips in anticipation ahead of the 2021/22 season.
After north of £200m of talent arrived over the last three summers, the recent additions have signalled a sea change in Everton’s approach. But where spending is restricted, it can also be shrewd, and the arrival of Gray could certainly prove to be a decent bit of business for the Toffees.
The 25-year-old will surely benefit from regular football if he hits the ground running at Goodison Park and Benitez has already set his sights on remodelling a player who struggled to nail down a starting spot at Leicester. A seasoned winger, Gray replaced James Rodriguez as a No10 on his Everton debut and Benitez said afterwards: “We were following him and I knew he could play in the three positions behind the striker.”
That versatility could well play into Gray’s hands as he tries to keep his name on the teamsheet at Everton.
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