Davies: Atalanta A Chance To Show What We Are Made Of

by Paul McNamara

Tom Davies says Everton must view tomorrow’s Europa League encounter with Atalanta as an opportunity to “show the competition how good we are”.

Blues midfielder Davies has savoured his first taste of continental football this season and grew up dreaming of winning a European trophy with his boyhood Club.

He has featured in all four of Everton’s Europa League ties – most notably delivering an excellent display at right wing-back in the 1-0 third-qualifying-round win in Ruzomberok.

And Davies insists an away game against an Atalanta team that finished fourth in Serie A last term represents a perfect chance for the Blues to stamp their authority on a group which also contains French outfit Lyon and Apollon Limassol from Cyprus.

“This is a game we need to win, especially coming after Saturday’s result,” said Davies, who played the second-half of the weekend defeat by Tottenham.

“We want to get back to winning ways immediately.

“It is the first game in the group and I am sure the lads will be up for it and determined to get the three points straight away.

“I have enjoyed the Europa League games a lot. It is the first time I have played in Europe, so for me it is all new and exciting.

“As a player, I have always wanted to win a European trophy. We have the opportunity to do that now.

“This game is a chance to show the competition how good we are – and I am sure we will do that.”

Davies shared his teammates’ disappointment at Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Spurs, especially after a primarily positive start to the campaign.

Everton beat Ruzomeberok over two legs without conceding and then survived a sizzling atmosphere and fired-up Hajduk Split to complete a 3-1 aggregate Europa League play-off-round success in Croatia.

In the Premier League the Blues started by beating Stoke and were then only denied victory at title contenders Manchester City by Raheem Sterling’s late goal.

Davies says there is reason, then, to believe Everton can snap back into form in Italy. And from a personal perspective, the 19-year-old admits any chance to trade blows with unfamiliar opposition represents a valuable learning opportunity.

“I am really looking forward to this game,” said Davies.

“Hopefully I can get some more minutes. It is always a different culture in Europe, everything changes: the referees, teams and players.

“You can never take any game for granted. Whoever you come up against at their place, it is always a tough game and the home fans are often really up for it. This one will be like that.

“Italian teams are usually known for their defensive style, so it will be interesting to see how Atalanta shape up against us – if we have most of the ball, or if they go for something different.

“We know Saturday wasn’t good enough. Thursday will be a chance for us to improve on that and, hopefully, get a positive result.

“If we focus and play the way we know we can, which wasn’t what we did on Saturday, then there will be a good chance for us to do that.”

Davies’s fantastic 2017, which began with his wonderful solo goal on just his third top-flight Goodison start against Manchester City in January, continued apace during the recent international break.

Having already represented England at every age-group level from Under-16 to Under-19, he was handed an Under-21 debut in a European Championship qualifier with Latvia.

Davies marked the occasion with a stellar performance, as the young Lions won 3-0 at Bournemouth’s Dean Court to step up their bid for a place in the 2019 finals to be jointly-hosted by Italy and San Marino.

The teenager was especially pleased to be back in the international fold after sitting out the summer’s Under-20 World Cup and Under-19 European Championship following his hectic second half of 2016/17.

“I missed out on the summer tournaments, so to get into the Under-21s was important for me,” said Davies, who also watched from the bench as England drew their opening qualifier in Holland four days before his first outing.

“It was a good trip – we were away for 10 days in all.

“I was really proud to make my Under-21s debut and, hopefully, I can get many more caps. It was a great experience, with a good group of lads. I really wanted to put in a good performance and I felt I did that. It was a such good feeling to be back out playing for England.

“I am looking forward to seeing how that goes this season and trying to qualify for the Euros."

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