The second legs of the Europa League quarter finals get underway this week, as West Ham make the trip across the channel for their reverse fixture against Lyon. The first leg ended all square, with a 1-1 result, in a game that was flooded in controversy. Overseen by a referee who has previously been convicted for match-fixing, it seemed like he was unfair to the English side. Not only that, but a questionable red card for The Hammers, combined with two pitch invaders, spelled for a very entertaining, but insane night.
West Ham have never progressed after not winning a first leg at home in a European competition, which has occurred three times. The Hammers will be hoping that the challenge presented in front of them in France won’t be too hard to overcome, as a win in the game will see them through. This may be a challenge, however, as Lyon are unbeaten in seven games against English sides, which is the best run amongst French teams.
Lyon have been incredibly strong in the Europa League, being completely unbeaten as they have won six games, and only drawn three. West Ham’s European record this season isn’t quite as good, as they have won five, drawn two and lost two. With Lyon showing little-to-no signs of weakness in this competition this season, this will be a contributing factor as to why they are favourites to go through against a West Ham side that will not be backing down from a challenge.
This fixture means so much to the London based side, as they enter the second leg on equal terms as their opponents. With this current run being the most that they have ever advanced in Europe, the players will start to feel a weight on their shoulders as the emotion of fans and club stakeholders will be riding high, as the semi-finals of the Europa League are well within their grasp. Lyon, however, have been here before. The most that they have ever advanced in the Europa League is to the semi-finals, where they were knocked out in the 2016/17 season by Ajax. With the French side also reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League before, they will have more experience in this type of fixture, whilst West Ham will try to continue making club history.
An equal first leg sets us up for a tense and entertaining reverse fixture in France. Have a look at my bet builder selections below, as well as the Cheat Sheet, as we see who will take their place in the Europa League semi-finals against either Frankfurt or Barcelona.
Lyon to Qualify for the Next Round
Despite West Ham fighting incredibly hard to take a 1-1 scoreline into the second leg, I’m expecting Lyon to show their European experience, and get the better of their English opponents in the tie. I don’t doubt that West Ham will fight to the end, but I believe that Lyon will advance, whether that be after 90 minutes, extra time or penalties.
The fact that Lyon are currently unbeaten in the Europa League so far this season won’t spell promise for West Ham, who battled to a tremendous extent to earn a draw in the first leg. Despite Lyon missing chances and not being as clinical as they could’ve been, I expect them to put on a performance that will reflect their European campaign this season and not let West Ham get the better of them.
Despite sitting in 10th place in the league table, Lyon’s current situation isn’t as bad as it could be. They are only five points off the top five, which contains qualification for European competitions. Not only this, but their form has been improving compared to earlier on in the season, as they have only lost three games in their last 16 in the league. This resilience and determination from Lyon reflects their upturn in form, as they have become an incredibly tough side to get the better of.
In the first leg, Lyon had 72% possession and a total of 23 shots compared to West Ham’s five. This dominating performance was not a one-off, as I expect this to continue over into the second leg on Thursday night. With Lyon able to reconfigure their tactics, this will give them an opportunity to turn their domination into a more clinical performance. Because of this, I see no reason for Lyon to burst out of the blocks and advance into the semi-finals.
Moussa Dembele to Score Anytime
Because I expect Lyon to produce a more clinical performance and get the better of West Ham, I’ve done some research as to who the person could be to make the difference, deciding on Moussa Dembele.
Dembele, the vice-captain, is a crucial part of the Lyon attack. The 25-year-old has proved his worth at Celtic, before showing the French league the extent of his talent. This season, he has scored 12 goals in 23 league appearances, which has established himself as the club’s top scorer in the league. With a flurry of attacking talent surrounding him, he can always rely on chances being created for him, as the likes of Karl Toko Ekambi, Lucas Paqueta and Romain Faivre will make up an attacking force which will provide Dembele with the chances required against West Ham to help Lyon progress in the Europa League.
With Dembele averaging 0.67 goals per 90 minutes this season, this highlights the frequency that the striker is able to convert his chances. Dembele is a solidified choice in attack, that is relied on to be the difference in high profile games. Dembele scored in the last round of the Europa League against Porto, showing that he can be counted on when Lyon need him the most.
The Frenchman averages 2.92 shots per match, converting 1.18 of those on target. With Lyon having 23 shots in the first leg, this performance is likely to be replicated on Thursday night, as Lyon will have their home crowd to spur them on. If Lyon are able to manufacture an amount of chances as high as this yet again, we can expect Dembele to be right in the thick of the action, as any threat at the West Ham goal will go through him. Because of Lyon’s attacking dominance in the first leg, this shows how easily they can create chances against West Ham, which is why I’m backing Dembele to end up on the scoresheet.
Declan Rice to be Shown a Card
With West Ham feeling the pressure in the second leg, I’ve had a look at who is the most likely to lash out, or end up being booked, landing on Declan Rice.
Rice is the vice-captain; however, he steps up to the plate to wear the armband very often as club captain Mark Noble normally occupies the bench. Being a passionate player, Rice is a warrior-like character that will defend his team to the end of the Earth. Because of this, I’m expecting the chances of him being booked to increase. Not only is Rice not a stranger to a few crunching tackles, but he has a small habit of being booked due to arguments with the officials. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a feature of the second leg, as West Ham will be travelling to France frustrated at their luck in the first leg. With Lyon being favourites in this game, West Ham will be ferociously trying to stay in the tie, which could create some frustration throughout the squad.
Rice will be coming up against a force of attacking talent, as he could come across Faivre (1.91 fouls drawn per game), Paqueta (2.61 fouls drawn per game) and Ndombele (2.95 fouls drawn per game). The tricky Lyon players will play on the mind of Rice, as they will look to get the better of the English midfielder. With Rice committing 1.07 fouls per game, which has earnt him seven yellow cards in the league so far this season, Rice won’t hesitate to make the odd foul to make his presence felt, which can end up with him seeing yellow.
With the referee in charge showing an average of five yellow cards per match, Rice will have to be careful with his tackling and appeals to the referee, as a high amount of cards issued per match shows that the referee has a small amount of patience before dishing out bookings. Because of this, I’m backing Rice to end up in the book.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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Lyon v West Ham Predicted Line-ups
Lyon predicted XI (4-2-3-1) : Pollersbeck; Gusto, Lukeba, Boateng, Emerson; Reine-Adelaide, Mendes; Faivre, Paqueta, Toko Ekambi; Dembele
West Ham predicted XI (4-2-3-1) : Areola; Johnson, Dawson, Diop, Masuaku; Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Fornals, Benrahma; Antonio
Lyon v West Ham Cheat Sheet
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* All odds displayed correct at the time of publishing *
How to watch Lyon v West Ham in the Europa League
📅 When is Lyon v West Ham? / Thursday, 14th April 2022, 20:00
🏟 Where is Lyon v West Ham? / Groupama Stadium (Lyon)
📺 What TV channel is Lyon v West Ham on? / BT Sport 1
🟨 …And who is the referee for Lyon v West Ham? / Sandro Schärer 🇨🇭