Everton’s pre-season takes them to Orlando for The Florida Cup, starting with a contest against Colombian outfit Millonarios on Sunday at 11pm (UK time).
The annual stateside tournament will be contested between The Toffees, Mexican side Pumas and two clubs from Colombia in Millonarios and Medellin-based Atletico Nacional, following the withdrawals of Arsenal and Inter Milan.
Everton vs Millonarios live stream:
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Scoreline prediction: Everton 3-1 Millonarios
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Everton vs Millonarios build-up, previous line-ups & injury news:
Everton begin life post-Carlo Ancelotti with a familiar face in Merseyside at the helm. Former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has been drafted in to help steer the club towards European football and finally break the top-six glass ceiling, but his reputation and legacy across Stanley Park means his job is already under immense pressure. The Spaniard will have to perform miracles in order to shift the narrative on the terraces and get Evertonians genuinely optimistic about his appointment.
Two in-house friendlies against Accrington Stanley and Blackburn Rovers at Everton’s Finch Farm training facilities have given Benitez a chance to assess his squad and get to grips with what he has to work with. Jetting across the Atlantic, he will now get to bask in the warm glow of America’s Sunshine State before heading back across the pond and preparing his charges for an ideal warm-up against fellow Premier League club Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Before that, though, is the matter of dealing with Millonarios in the Florida Cup. Bogota-based Embajadores boast the likes of former Inter Milan midfielder Fredy Guarin and ex-Benfica forward Cristian Arango, so will certainly not be an easy target for Benitez in his first official game in charge of the club. He will, no doubt, want to mark the occasion with a win, and the victor of this contest will actually be declared as the winners of the competition.
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Player to watch: Demarai Gray (Everton)
Once heralded as the next big thing to emerge from Birmingham’s esteemed academy, Demarai Gray’s career has been in stasis since leaving St Andrew’s in 2016, but he will be hoping this new turn at Everton will spike his form and thrust his name back into the limelight. The 25-year-old was unable to break into Leicester’s first team on a consistent basis and eventually upped sticks to Bayer Leverkusen at the end of January, in a transfer that largely went over everyone’s heads. Now back in the Premier League, joining Everton for the paltry sum of £1.7m, he will be determined to make use of his opportunity under Benitez and finally live up to the promise he showcased during his formative years.