West Ham will try to overcome a 1-0 deficit when they host Sevilla on Thursday night at the London Stadium in the Europa League Round of 16. Sevilla’s Europa League pedigree and position in the La Liga table indicates that it will be an uphill battle for David Moyes’s men. However, the Hammers will hope to capitalise on their home ground advantage and outclass their Andalusian opponents.
West Ham United
It has been a remarkable season so far for West Ham. They are sixth in the Premier League and are in contention of a top-four finish. Progressing to the knockout stages of the Europa League is also an outstanding feat for the East Londoners.
But, they will feel they can go further into the competition, having fought toe-to-toe with Sevilla in the reverse fixture and trailing by only a single goal.
Nikola Vlasic could have given West Ham the lead at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. But the Croatian couldn’t keep his header on target, and that’s the closest West Ham came to unlocking the Sevilla goal.
Munir El Haddadi scored the decisive goal in the second half and gave Sevilla a one-goal cushion heading into the second leg.
West Ham will try to draw inspiration from their recent form at the London Stadium. They haven’t lost at home since January and ahead of the Sevilla game, they picked up a morale-boosting 2-1 win over Aston Villa.
Michail Antonio limped off the pitch during the Aston Villa game, meaning Nikola Vlasic could get the chance to make amends for his first leg miss. Jarrod Bowen, who was in a prolific form before suffering a foot injury, will not be available for selection as well.
Like their Thursday night opponents, Sevilla are enjoying a fantastic domestic campaign. Los Nervionenses sit second on the La Liga table, ahead of the likes of Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.
However, Julen Lopetegui will not be complacent with his side’s European run. Sevilla were favourites to advance from their Champions League group. But, they couldn’t finish above Lille and RB Leipzig. As a result, they got demoted to the Europa League.
Sevilla are the most successful team in the competition’s history, and they are in a favourable position to make it to the quarterfinals, thanks to their 1-0 first-leg win.
But Sevilla are going through a rough patch lately, having dropped points four times in their last six league outings. They have found the opposition net on only five occasions in those matches.
Despite their attacking woes, Sevilla continue to be a difficult side to score against. They have let in only seven goals in their last ten matches across all competitions. Since they already have a lead, keeping West Ham from scoring in the second leg would be enough for Sevilla to seal the tie.
Lucas Ocampos will watch on from the stands as he will serve a one-match suspension for picking up his third yellow in Europe. Man United loanee Anthony Martial would deputise for him on the left side of the Sevilla attack.
With Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen missing out, scoring against Sevilla would be a pretty difficult task for the West Ham attack. Sevilla are an excellent defensive side. As they come into this match with a one-goal advantage, we expect them to sit deep and keep West Ham forwards at bay. A draw is the likeliest outcome.