West Ham United will be hoping to overturn a 2-1 deficit when they face Eintracht Frankfurt in the second leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday night.

West Ham will make the trip to Deutsche Bank Park for the second leg of their UEFA Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt trailing the German outfit by two goals to one after the first leg in London last week.

The task at hand is pretty straightforward for David Moyes’ men: win by at least one goal to have a chance of progressing to their first major final in this competition since taking on Anderlecht in the 1976 European Cup Winners’ Cup final in Brussels. Interestingly, West Ham had to overcome Frankfurt in the semi-finals on that occasion, coming from 2-1 down after the first leg to emerge victors 4-3 on aggregate.

But that historic triumph came at Upton Park and David Moyes’ troops have a mountain to climb to turn the tie on its head in front of raucous Die Adler supporters. West Ham are having a stellar season. Following a sixth-place finish in the Premier League last season, many wondered if David Moyes’ side would be able to sustain the same levels of performance this time out.

West Ham are unlikely to finish sixth again, although that is acceptable given their recent emphasis on achieving Europa League glory. That being said, the Hammers have been struggling in recent weeks, but this is due, in large part, to their overstretched season and lack of squad depth, leaving many to ponder how much they have got left in the tank for the final push.

Like West Ham, Eintracht Frankfurt are now all-in on the Europa League, with a six-match winless streak seeing them drop into the bottom half of the Bundesliga standings (D3 L3). Therefore, the pressure is on Oliver Glasner to deliver a trophy here and secure an unlikely route to the Champions League. The Germans have eliminated Real Betis and Barcelona to reach this stage, and are now on the cusp of the final.

Anything can happen, though, with both teams entering the game in woeful domestic form. Die Adler have a simply dreadful home record this season and have lost five of their last eight Bundesliga home games, including a dour defeat against relegation-threatened Arminia Bielefeld, while the visitors have suffered defeat in their last two, losing consecutive London derbies.

Team News & Tactics

Eintracht Frankfurt

Eintracht Frankfurt should head into this game fresh as manager Oliver Glasner opted to rotate his squad for the 2-0 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen last time out. Djibril Sow, Daichi Kamada, Almamy Toure and Rafael Borre were all left out of the starting lineup at Leverkusen and will return for this game.

It seems unlikely that Jesper Lindstrom will be available after picking up a thigh injury, and his pace and skill will certainly be missed. Otherwise, backup goalkeeper Diant Ramaj is the only player unavailable for the hosts due to injury.

Frankfurt will also be able to welcome back both Evan Ndicka and Kristijan Jakic after the pair missed the first leg due to suspension. However, the duo failed to impress against Bayer Leverkusen over the weekend, leaving the door open for Glasner to count on the same players who impressed in East London.

Glasner could choose to line Eintracht Frankfurt up in a familiar 3-4-2-1 formation and has no reason to tinker with the back three of Tuta, Martin Hinteregger and Almamy Toure, who will protect Kevin Trapp in goal. All three centre-backs remain a threat from set-pieces, though a bigger task will be to handle the dangerous Jarrod Bowen.

The two holding midfielders in Sebastian Rode and Djibril Sow should offer additional support with their ability to disrupt play. Filip Kostic will be Frankfurt’s chief creative threat, lining up as the left wing-back. His proficiency from set-pieces, coupled with his crossing prowess, could serve will be crucial, whereas Ansgar Knauff will take his place on the right flank, providing width and late runs on his side.

With Lindstrom sidelined, Jens Petter Hauge might get a chance to impress and will start with Daichi Kamada just behind target-man Rafael Santos Borre, who will rely on the service from wide areas.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Trapp; Tuta, Hinteregger, Toure; Knauff, Sow, Rode, Kostic; Kamada, Hauge; Borre

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West Ham United

West Ham boss David Moyes will be without the services of Angelo Ogbonna, who is sidelined for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Ben Johnson is the only other injury doubt ahead of the crucial tie.

Moyes is expected to field the team in his preferred 4-2-3-1 system against Frankfurt and will need the best from his star players to mount their revival on German soil. PSG loanee Alphonse Areola would operate between the sticks for visitors. The French international has been a reliable presence, deputising for No. 1 Lukasz Fabianski in cup competitions.

Craig Dawson will come back to the fold at the heart of the backline alongside Kurt Zouma after missing out against Arsenal last time out through suspension. Issa Diop was fit enough to make the bench against Arsenal but is unlikely to be drafted back into the starting XI for this game. Aaron Cresswell will take his place at left-back, whereas Vladimir Coufal will replace Johnson on the right.

Declan Rice has stepped up for West Ham when they most need him and the midfielder will have to deliver another inspirational performance in this semi-final. Tomas Soucek was rested for the weekend’s defeat to Arsenal and should return here to assume his holding midfield duties.

Said Benrahma is pushing for a start ahead of Manuel Lanzini, but the Argentine will retain his attacking midfield position thanks to his defensive tenacity. Jarrod Bowen and Pablo Fornals will play wide roles to complete the attacking trio. The former will pose a direct threat thanks to his buzzing speed, dribbling ability and gifted left foot.

Meanwhile, Jamaican striker Michail Antonio is expected to spearhead the attack for the visitors with his hold-up play and strength key to Moyes’ style of play.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Areola; Coufal, Dawson, Zouma, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Lanzini, Fornals; Antonio

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Key Stats

  • Eintracht Frankfurt are undefeated in their 11 matches in the UEFA Europa League this season.
  • Eintracht have progressed from 22 of their previous 25 two-legged encounters in major UEFA European competition when winning in the first leg, while they have never been knocked out after winning the first tie away from home (6/6).
  • West Ham United have lost six of their last eight games away from home (W1 D1).
  • Eintracht Frankfurt are aiming to reach their first major European final since the 1980 UEFA Cup (vs Borussia Monchengladbach) when they won their last European silverware.
  • Over 2.5 goals have been scored in four of Frankfurt’s past six games across all competitions, while at least three goals have been scored in three of West Ham’s last five. So, goals could well be in store in this fixture.

Player to Watch

Daichi Kamada

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The Japanese midfielder was something of an unknown quantity when he first arrived at Frankfurt in 2018, but he has proven to be one of the best performing Asian footballers in Europe over the past year and deserves a lot of praise and attention right now. The Japanese international scored in the first leg and has chipped in with nine goals and three assists for Eintracht Frankfurt this season.

This follows on from the 17 goal contributions he recorded last term (5 goals, 12 assists), showing his consistent end-product. His swift movement, sublime passing technique, and ability to churn high-quality opportunities make him an efficient workhorse and a creative maestro for Frankfurt’s attack.

Prediction

Eintracht Frankfurt 2-2 West Ham United

Frankfurt comes into this game with a double boost, having a 2-1 aggregate lead and the advantage of playing the second leg at home, but West Ham were not outplayed by any means the first leg. In fact, they were the better side for much of the game, which makes the return leg even more intriguing and perfectly poised.

Both sides are really struggling for clean sheets at the moment and, with the onus on the Hammers to attack the game, it might play into Frankfurt’s hands, allowing them to pick the visitors off on the break. As a result, the Hard Tackle predicts a fairly open affair, with the Germans just about edging out the visitors on aggregate to book their ticket to Seville for the showpiece finale.

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