West Ham United vs Bayer Leverkusen: Preview and Prediction

A spot in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals will be on the line when West Ham United welcome Bayer Leverkusen to the London Stadium on Thursday.

The UEFA Europa League quarter-finals will culminate on Thursday, with all four matches being played simultaneously. West Ham United will have an uphill task when they host Bayer Leverkusen at the London Stadium.

West Ham United and Bayer Leverkusen topped their groups during the group stage to directly progress to the Round of 16. The Hammers came from a goal down to beat SC Freiburg 5-1 in the first knockout phase, while Die Werkself scratched and clawed to get past Qarabag 5-4 on aggregate.

Meanwhile, the hosts come into Thursday’s game on the back of successive 2-0 defeats and have won only one of their last six outings. On the other hand, Bayer Leverkusen will head into the midweek European fixture on the back of winning the Bundesliga title, cruising to a 5-0 win over Werder Bremen.

The first leg ended in a 2-0 win for Bayer Leverkusen, with a hapless West Ham managing only one shot in the entire game. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

West Ham United

David Moyes has new roster issues hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday, the West Ham United manager might be bereft of the services of five first-team players.

Lucas Paqueta and Emerson Palmieri are the latest absentees, with the duo serving suspensions after picking up milestone yellow cards in the first leg. In addition, Moyes is sweating over the fitness of Jarrod Bowen, who might only be fit enough to start on the bench. Kalvin Phillips and Alphonse Areola are the other players on the sidelines.

Areola’s potential absence means Lukasz Fabianski will deputise for the Frenchman between the sticks, with West Ham lining up in a 3-5-2 formation in front of him against Bayer Leverkusen. The central defensive unit should feature Kurt Zouma, Nayef Aguerd, and Aaron Cresswell.

Vladimir Coufal and Ben Johnson should be the two wing-backs, with the duo contributing on both ends. Edson Alvarez, Tomas Soucek, and James Ward-Prowse should form a solid midfield trifecta, with the latter providing the creative impetus. Finally, Mohammed Kudus and Michail Antonio will be the two strikers for the home side.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Fabianski; Zouma, Aguerd, Cresswell; Coufal, Alvarez, Soucek, Ward-Prowse, Johnson; Kudus, Antonio

Bayer Leverkusen

Unlike his counterpart in the West Ham United dugout, Xabi Alonso barely has any concerns to deal with ahead of the trip to the London Stadium. The Bayer Leverkusen manager will be without only one first-team player.

Adam Hlozek is the only absentee, with the Czech attacker recovering from an ankle injury. Bayer Leverkusen will line up in the usual 3-4-2-1 formation against West Ham United, with Lukas Hradecky taking his spot between the sticks.

The central defensive unit should consist of Odilon Kossounou, Jonathan Tah, and Josip Stanisic. The trio will look to remain compact and initiate transitions. Jeremie Frimpong and Alejandro Grimaldo will be the two wing-backs, with the duo being the away side’s creative forces.

As for the midfield unit, there is no looking past Granit Xhaka and Exequiel Palacios in the middle of the park. Finally, the fit-again Victor Boniface should lead the line for Bayer Leverkusen against West Ham, with Florian Wirtz and Amine Adli supporting him in the attack.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Hradecky; Kossounou, Tah, Stanisic; Frimpong, Xhaka, Palacios, Grimaldo; Wirtz, Adli; Boniface

Key Stats

  • Thursday’s clash will be the fifth time West Ham United will have trailed by two or more goals going into the second leg of a knockout tie in all European competitions, the first since the 1999/00 season. They progressed in the first two and faced defeat in the most recent two.
  • Bayer Leverkusen have progressed from all 13 previous occasions they have won the first leg of a two-legged European knockout tie by two or more goals.
  • West Ham United have won three of their last four home games against German sides (L1), already beating SC Freiburg twice in the Europa League this season (2-0 in the group stage, 5-0 in the Round of 16).
  • Bayer Leverkusen have only won one of their ten away games against English opposition in all competitions. However, that win came in their most recent visit to London, as they beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 in November 2016.
  • Florian Wirtz (25) and James Ward-Prowse (22) are two of the top three players for most chances created in the Europa League this season.

Player to Watch

James Ward-Prowse

Embed from Getty Images

With Jarrod Bowen unlikely to be fit enough to start and Lucas Paqueta serving a suspension, Mohammed Kudus and James Ward-Prowse are the only West Ham United players worthy of featuring in this section. As for Bayer Leverkusen, the returning Victor Boniface was an option. But we have picked Ward-Prowse as our player to watch.

The English international has been a game-changer for West Ham this season with his tenacity and combativeness in the middle of the park. His exploits alongside Edson Alvarez have helped West Ham fill Declan Rice’s void in the midfield unit.

However, Ward-Prowse is a well-rounded midfielder whose ghosting runs make him a threat. In addition, the former Southampton captain is the biggest creative outlet for West Ham and features in the top three for chances created in the UEFA Europa League this season. So, the hosts need him at the races to have a chance to topple the Bayer Leverkusen juggernaut.


West Ham United 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen

The home side might feel they have a chance to topple Bayer Leverkusen if the visitors have any after-effects of celebrating winning the Bundesliga title. However, Xabi Alonso would know that the job is only half done for Die Werkself, considering his men are still in with a chance of winning a historic treble.

So, while the visitors might show some vulnerability at the back, that will not be enough for West Ham to get the better of them. In addition, with West Ham United missing two of their best players, they will unlikely conjure many efforts. In the end, the gulf in quality will prove telling, as The Hard Tackle predicts Bayer Leverkusen to clinch a 2-1 win.

Leave Comment


Welcome Back!

Login to your account below

Retrieve your password

Please enter your username or email address to reset your password.