Bayer Leverkusen vs West Ham United: Preview and Prediction

Bayer Leverkusen and West Ham United will aim to close in on a spot in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals when they clash on Thursday.

The 2023/24 UEFA Europa League returns this midweek with the quarter-finals. The four first-leg clashes will simultaneously greet us, with one of the eye-catching fixtures coming from BayArena, where Bayer Leverkusen will host West Ham United.

Bayer Leverkusen fans would have hoped for better times under the tutelage of Xabi Alonso. But no one could have foreseen the kind of impact the Spanish tactician has had thus far this term. The German giants have not lost a single game in any competition, although they have come close to emerging on the wrong end of a result on a few occasions in recent outings.

Meanwhile, Bayer Leverkusen reached the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals after beating Qarabag FK in the Round of 16. As for West Ham United, they beat SC Freiburg to reach the quarter-finals, coming from a one-goal deficit to decimate the Bundesliga outfit in the second leg.

The Hammers have blown hot and cold in domestic football, winning only two of their last six Premier League games (D3 L1). However, David Moyes and his charges are seventh in the top-flight standings, and qualifying for the UEFA Champions League is possible from two routes.

Thursday’s clash will be the first-ever European match featuring Bayer Leverkusen and West Ham United. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the maiden meeting between the two sides.

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Bayer Leverkusen

Xabi Alonso has new injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against West Ham United on Thursday, the Bayer Leverkusen manager will be bereft of the services of three first-team players.

Nathan Tella (hip) and Adam Hlozek (ankle) are the latest absentees, with the duo picking up their injuries this past weekend against Union Berlin. Arthur is the only other player on the sidelines, as he is still lacking match fitness.

Matej Kovar has been the designated goalkeeper in the UEFA Europa League and should start on Thursday, with Bayer Leverkusen lining up in a 3-4-2-1 formation in front of him against West Ham United. The central defensive unit will likely feature Odilon Kossounou, Jonathan Tah, and Piero Hincapie.

Jeremie Frimpong and Alejandro Grimaldo should be the two wing-backs, with the duo being the main outlets in the final third for the home side. Granit Xhaka and Robert Andrich will shore up the midfield unit, with Florian Wirtz and Amine Adli reprising advanced roles through the middle. Finally, Patrik Schick will lead the line for Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Kovar; Kossounou, Tah, Hincapie; Frimpong, Xhaka, Andrich, Grimaldo; Wirtz, Adli; Schick

West Ham United

Like his counterpart in the Bayer Leverkusen dugout, David Moyes has a new issue to deal with ahead of the trip to BayArena. The West Ham United manager will be without three first-team players on Thursday.

Jarrod Bowen is the latest absentee after picking up a back injury this past weekend against Wolverhampton Wanderers. In addition, Edson Alvarez will serve a suspension due to an accumulation of yellow cards. Alphonse Areola is the only other absentee due to a muscle injury.

Lukasz Fabianski will deputise for Areola between the sticks, with West Ham United lining up in a 3-4-2-1 formation in front of him against Bayer Leverkusen. Moyes will change the system due to Bowen’s absence. The central defensive unit should feature Vladimir Coufal, Kurt Zouma, and Konstantinos Mavropanos.

Ben Johnson and Emerson Palmieri should be the two wing-backs, with the duo flanking Tomas Soucek and James Ward-Prowse in the middle of the park. Finally, Michail Antonio will lead the line for West Ham, with Mohammed Kudus and Lucas Paqueta supporting him in the attack.

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

Key Stats

  • Thursday’s clash will be the first-ever European meeting between Bayer Leverkusen and West Ham United.
  • Bayer Leverkusen last faced English opponents in Europe in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League group stage against Tottenham Hotspur.
  • Bayer Leverkusen are currently on a German record run of 42 games without defeat in all competitions.
  • Bayer Leverkusen have not lost their last seven European games at the BayArena, winning five and drawing two.
  • West Ham United eliminated Bundesliga side SC Freiburg in the Round of 16 to set up this quarter-final tie.

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Mohammed Kudus

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With Bayer Leverkusen flying high, the onus will be on the West Ham United attackers to make the East London outfit the first team to beat Die Werkself in the 2023/24 season. That brings Mohammed Kudus into the picture.

The German giants have appeared vulnerable at the back in the last few weeks, with Qarabag FK also taking things close in the two legs in the Round of 16. So, Kudus, who has been excellent since arriving from Ajax last summer, might feel he has the chance to punish Bayer Leverkusen if he plays at his best level on Thursday.


Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 West Ham United

West Ham United will take the game to Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday, setting up a closely contested affair. However, Jarrod Bowen’s absence plays spoilsport for the away side, and they might not be as threatening as they can be in the final third.

Bayer Leverkusen’s defensive vulnerabilities might hand a way into the game for West Ham, with Mohammed Kudus likely finding the back of the net. However, the visitors will fall short in the end, with Xabi Alonso and his charges picking up a 2-1 win to set up a tantalising second leg next week.

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