SC Freiburg vs West Ham United: Preview and Prediction

SC Freiburg meet West Ham United for the third time in this season’s Europa League, with the hosts aiming to get the better of their visitors.

SC Freiburg are aiming to make the best of the opportunity in front of them and create history by reaching the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League at the expense of West Ham United. The Bundesliga outfit have never managed to go that far in any European competition in their lifetime and face a challenging task when West Ham come visiting. They are in a confident mood ahead of this game, having held Bayern Munich to a 2-2 draw.

This is not the first time these two sides have met in this competition this season, having been previously drawn in the same group. The Hammers got the better of their hosts in the group stages and forced them to a play-off with UEFA Champions League dropouts RC Lens.

A goalless first leg forced Freiburg to visit France to get a result, and they were soon behind at half-time after goals from David Costa and Elye Wahi. Roland Sallai’s second-half brace cancelled those goals out, with Michael Gregoritsch snatching the winner in extra time. Now, to make it into the Last Eight and create history, Freiburg must exact revenge on West Ham and do something different than they did in the group stages.

David Moyes will want total concentration from his players ahead of the crucial  Round of 16 clash with Freiburg. The Scotsman recognises the idea of qualifying for the Champions League by winning the Europa League as they did for this competition last season by lifting the Conference League title.

West Ham have picked up some form and momentum ahead of their visit to Germany, having overseen victories in their last two Premier League games. Since losing to Arsenal and Nottingham Forest, the Hammers have overcome Brentford and Everton, which will keep Moyes in a confident mood ahead of this visit.

West Ham have a good record this season in the Europa League, winning five of their six group games and finishing the first phase as group winners. They will come into this clash as the favourites, with Moyes likely to use his experience from last season to engineer another great run in this season’s Europa League.

Team News & Tactics

SC Freiburg

Christian Streich remains without the services of Daniel Kofi-Kyereh, Max Rosenfelder, Lukas Kubler and Kenneth Schmidt. Beyond that, SC Freiburg do not have any issues stemming from the draw with Bayern Munich last Friday.

There is good news with the fitness of Philipp Lienhart, who missed the Bayern Munich clash with a hamstring problem and should return. He is also one yellow card away from a suspension, so Streich will show caution while selecting him.

While Lienhart might not make the starting lineup after nearly ten weeks out, Streich might still thrust Matthias Ginter, who only returned recently from an Achilles problem, into the lineup. He will partner Manuel Gulde in the heart of the defence, with Kiliann Sildillia and Christian Gunter likely to be preferred in the full-back roles.

Streich will prefer his 4-4-2 setup heading into this all-important first leg with West Ham, with Maximilian Eggestein and Nicolas Hofler the preferred midfield pairing for Freiburg. Lucas Holer and Roland Sallai are likely to lead the line for the German side, with Ritsu Doan and Vincenzo Grifo being the preferred choices.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Atubolu; Sildillia, Ginter, Gulde, Gunter; Doan, Eggstein, Hofler, Grifo; Holer, Sallai

West Ham United

David Moyes will have a full selection of players available, barring only Maxwel Cornet. The attacker may not be back until the end of the month as he nurses a thigh strain. The Hammers boss could stay cautious about his team selection and name an unchanged lineup while only changing the goalkeeper from the Everton win.

While Alphonse Areola has performed well since becoming the club’s undisputed No.1, Moyes might look to rotate Lukasz Fabianski, who has had an unbeaten Europa League campaign so far, featuring in five of the six group games.

In midfield, Moyes will continue with Tomas Soucek and Edson Alvarez, while James Ward-Prowse will continue in the advanced tole with fellow attackers Lucas Paqueta and Mohammed Kudus.

Moyes will also keep relying on Jarrod Bowen in the centre-forward role despite having Michail Antonio and Danny Ings in his squad. The former could still be a preferred option for the bench, as he has recently made inroads after a severe knee injury at the end of last year.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Coufal, Mavropanos, Zouma, Emerson; Soucek, Alvarez; Kudus, Ward-Prowse, Paqueta; Bowen

Key Stats

  • SC Freiburg and West Ham United will play for the third time in the UEFA Europa League this season.
  • Freiburg have only one victory in their last eight games across all competitions, which came against RC Lens in the UEFA Europa League playoffs for the knockout rounds.
  • Freiburg have conceded at least two goals in their last five home games in all competitions.
  • West Ham have lost only once this season in the Europa League and have won their last three games without conceding a goal.
  • Should West Ham beat Freiburg, it will be the first time in their history that they defeat the same European opponent thrice in a season.

Player to Watch

Jarrod Bowen

Embed from Getty Images

The West Ham United talisman scored a sensational hat-trick in the win over Brentford but went without scoring in the away victory over Everton. Yet, he was still intrigued by how the Hammers attacked and contributed to their overall style.

While he is not an out-and-out centre-forward, since last season, Bowen has adapted to the role very well. He should continue in that leading role ahead of Michail Antonio and Danny Ings for the time being, and should he put on a productive shift against Freiburg, David Moyes might not consider moving him from that role for the foreseeable future.


SC Freiburg 1-3 West Ham United

The Hammers have scored seven goals in their last two games in the Premier League and will want to boost their confidence with a stellar win away from home in the Europa League. David Moyes will have enjoyed such a mood and confidence from his players ahead of this crucial first-leg clash in Germany as he will bring his team with the intention to win.

Meanwhile, SC Freiburg come into the clash with West Ham with some confidence after their draw with Bayern Munich. However, they still have not found the formula to win games consistently.

Their record of one victory from eight games will mean a lot, as West Ham are clear favourites to take three points and make sure Freiburg continue their trend of conceding at least two goals at home for a sixth game running. The Hard Tackle predicts the away side to clinch a 3-1 win on Thursday.

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