West Ham United will be planning to turn things around when they take on Sevilla in the second leg of the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 tie on Thursday.

After succumbing to a narrow 1-0 defeat in the first leg, West Ham United are set to welcome Sevilla to the London Stadium, hoping to overturn the slender one-goal deficit.

The Hammers have done extraordinary well to reach this stage of the competition. However, they are starting to feel the pressure, especially against a Sevilla side, who are widely considered the most competent Europa League team over the past decade.

Nevertheless, West Ham have enough to quality turn things around, especially in front of the home supporters at the London Stadium. Their quality was on display on the weekend when the Londoners edged past Aston Villa 2-1. The three points helped the club remain in contention for a potential top-four finish come the end of the season.

Sevilla’s last game, on the other hand, ended in a goalless draw with Rayo Vallecano. Los Nervionenses are winless in their last two league games, which has helped Real Madrid extend their gap at the top to ten points – essentially killing the title race.

Julen Lopetegui’s men must conjure up their winning form when they travel to London this midweek, hoping to retain their slender advantage against a spirited West Ham side. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their enticing match-up in the UEFA Europa League.

Team News & Tactics

West Ham United

David Moyes has delivered insights on the fitness of Michail Antonio and Aaron Cresswell ahead of the game, confirming their absence from training. Both of them are set to be assessed on the day of the match, which poses question marks over their involvement, at least in the starting eleven.

Jarrod Bowen, meanwhile, has been ruled out until the end of the upcoming international break, potentially leaving West Ham without the services of their key frontmen.

Given the performance in the first leg, Moyes would have liked to bench Nikola Vlasic. But with Antonio unlikely to start, the onus will be on the Croat to fill in for the Jamaican international in the No. 9 slot. Said Benrahma and Pablo Fornals are the two players likely to start alongside him in the West Ham front three.

In midfield, Manuel Lanzini should operate in the No. 10 role, but it won’t be surprising to see him dropping deeper to help out Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice in the second line of press. As for the defence, Moyes is unlikely to ring in any changes with the hopes that his team can keep the Sevilla offence quiet in this return leg.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Areola; Johnson, Dawson, Zouma, Cresswell; Soucek, Rice; Benrahma, Lanzini, Fornals; Vlasic

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Sevilla

Sevilla will be boosted by the return of some key players heading into this game. Especially in midfield, Fernando and Thomas Delaney have returned in contention and are both included in the squad for the contest against West Ham United.

Delaney and Fernando should occupy the midfield roles, forming the three-man setup alongside Joan Jordan. Ivan Rakitic is also an option for Lopetegui, should he prefer a bit more experience in this Europa League encounter.

Another player set to return is centre-back Diego Carlos. His physical prowess and defensive understanding with Jules Kounde could be vital at the heart of Sevilla’s four-man backline, as it looks to keep the West Ham attack at bay and offer maximum protection for Bono in goal.

On the flip side, Marcos Acuna has not been included in the squad, while Lucas Ocampos is facing a suspension due to the accumulation of yellow cards. These absences could significantly weaken the left flank for Sevilla, with Ludwig Augustinsson in line to operate at left-back this midweek.

As for the frontline, Ocampos, Papu Gomez and Suso’s absence mean Anthony Martial is likely to start, forming the front three alongside Munir El Haddadi and Rafa Mir.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Bono; Navas, Kounde, Carlos, Augustinsson; Jordan, Fernando, Delaney; Martial, Mir, Munir

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Key Stats

  • The first leg was West Ham’s second defeat against Spanish opposition in Europe, with their previous loss coming away to Real Madrid Castilla in the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1980/81.
  • Sevilla are unbeaten in all eight matches against English opposition in the UEFA Cup/Europa League (W6 D2) – their first-leg victory was their fourth consecutive win against sides from England in the competition, previously beating Liverpool (2015/16), Wolves (2019/20) and Manchester United (2019/20).
  • West Ham’s first-leg defeat was their eighth in a major European tie – they have still managed to progress from such a position three times from the previous seven instances, all in the Cup Winners’ Cup between 1975/76 (ADO Den Haag, Eintracht Frankfurt) and 1980/81 (Real Madrid Castilla).
  • Sevilla have progressed from 19 of their 20 UEFA Cup/Europa League ties when winning the first leg, including each of their last 18 in a row. They were only eliminated from such a position against Kaiserslautern in 1982/83.
  • Sevilla have failed to win any of their last five away matches in all European competitions (D3 L2), last going on a longer such run between 1882 and 1995 (eight games).

Player to Watch

Munir El Haddadi

The spotlight will be on Anthony Martial this midweek, given his experience in the Premier League. But Sevilla’s main player in the attack could be none other than Munir El Haddadi. The former Barcelona frontman had caused all sorts of problems for the West Ham defence in the first leg, using his movements to good effect and providing a threat in the final third.

His dynamism and skill on the ball could be crucial once again as Los Nervionenses look to seal another win against the Hammers this midweek. Tactically, Munir is likely to operate on the left-hand side, but he can effortlessly switch flanks with someone like Martial, thus making him difficult to be marked out of the game.

Prediction

West Ham United 0-0 Sevilla

Sevilla are known for their defensive prowess, especially under the tutelage of Julen Lopetegui. The visitors were somewhat lucky not to concede a goal and come away with a 1-0 victory in the first leg. But with key players such as Fernando, Diego Carlos and Delaney back in contention, it could get significantly more difficult for the hosts to dominate the proceedings and assert control in the game.

Sevilla may also cause trouble on the counter, although West Ham’s strong defensive cover could make it difficult for Lopetegui’s men to properly build attacks. It may ultimately lead to a cagey affair, with Sevilla likely to advance to the next round owing to their slender lead from the first leg.

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