The Hard Tackle lists three players who can singlehandedly influence the tie when Fiorentina and West Ham United clash on Wednesday.
The 2022/23 season is on the verge of ending, with just two games remaining before the curtains drop. The penultimate match will be the UEFA Europa Conference League final, with Fiorentina and West Ham United set to lock horns at the Fortuna Arena on Wednesday night.
Fiorentina took the scenic route to the UEFA Europa Conference League final. They finished second in Group A to advance to the knockout playoff round, where they eased part SC Braga. And their three knockout games were goal fests, with La Viola clinching 5-1, 6-4, and 4-3 wins over Sivasspor, Lech Poznan, and FC Basel respectively.
On the other hand, West Ham United have cruised to the UEFA Europa Conference League final. The Hammers are unbeaten in Europe this season, with only one of their 12 games ending in a stalemate. And after comfortable victories over AEK Larnaca and Gent, they beat AZ Alkmaar in the semi-finals.
Fiorentina and West Ham United have clashed twice previously, with La Viola winning both games 1-0. But neither match had higher stakes than Wednesday’s fixture. And ahead of the much-awaited clash, The Hard Tackle lists three players who can singlehandedly influence the tie this week.
From a boy to a superstar…
Tonight will be Declan Rice's last match as a West Ham player.
Thank you for everything, captain ♥️ pic.twitter.com/2LSsnwSGYQ
— West Ham Central (@WestHam_Central) June 7, 2023
Attacking players make a telling difference to a game’s result. But on Wednesday, the midfield battle will determine which side comes out on top by stopping the other prolific team. And from the West Ham United side of things, Declan Rice is the most pivotal figure.
The English international has seen his stock skyrocket since making his first-team debut for West Ham. And his stature has soared so much that he is now the Hammers’ captain following Mark Noble’s retirement at the end of the 2021/22 season. But there is a feeling that he has peaked at West Ham.
Widespread reports have suggested that the Hammers are preparing themselves to part ways with their prized asset. And amid interest from Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester United, Wednesday’s fixture should be Rice’s last game with West Ham.
So the 24-year-old will be eager to bow out on a high, winning his first trophy with West Ham. And if he rises to the occasion, Fiorentina will struggle to create many chances. In addition, Rice’s ball-progressing abilities will enable the West Ham attackers to create overloads in the final third. So it is hardly surprising that the well-rounded Rice will be crucial to the Hammers’ fortunes.
— UEFA Europa Conference League (@europacnfleague) June 5, 2023
We now move on to the other facet of Wednesday’s midfield battle. And like Declan Rice, this Fiorentina midfielder will hold the key for La Viola to thwart West Ham. The player in question is Sofyan Amrabat.
The Moroccan international, like Rice, has seen his star rise exponentially in the last few years. And his stature has particularly increased in the wake of a phenomenal campaign at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. That has compelled several high-profile clubs to set their sights on him.
Barcelona and Manchester United are two of his prospective suitors as they look to bolster their midfield departments. And Amrabat is also a target for many other top clubs. As for what he will bring to the table on Wednesday, his ability behind the ball will be crucial for Fiorentina.
But the 26-year-old can also pass his team out of trouble, which makes him instrumental for the Italian club. So Fiorentina will be eager to see Amrabat make his mark against West Ham United in the middle of the park on Wednesday.
Jarrod Bowen and Tomáš Souček say the West Ham players have extra motivation to try to win this year's Europa Conference League ⚒️ pic.twitter.com/IeCjJckhRq
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) June 7, 2023
After discussing the midfield battle, we move to the matters in the final third. And players like Arthur Cabral, Michail Antonio, and Jonathan Ikone will be pivotal figures for the two sides. But we have gone ahead with Jarrod Bowen as the last pick on our list.
The English international has blown hot and cold this season. And his inconsistencies embodied West Ham’s struggles in the Premier League. But Bowen has been impressive in the UEFA Europa Conference League, just like he was in the Europa League last season.
More than a third of his goal contributions have come in the UEFA Europa Conference League. And the 26-year-old has five goals and three assists in 11 appearances, including Qualifiers. In contrast, he managed only seven goals and six assists in 42 other outings this season.
If Bowen manages to channel a similar performance to the displays in the previous rounds, West Ham will be in business. In addition, his directness in the final third can also help the other attackers, enabling them to find pockets of space to exploit.