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West Ham vs. Bayer Leverkusen: Preview, Prediction & Betting Tips

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      • (13') M. Antonio
      • (89') J. Frimpong
      • (31') M. Antonio
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          West Ham vs. Bayer Leverkusen: Preview, Prediction & Betting Tips

          As the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals approach their climax, the tie between West Ham United and Bayer Leverkusen stands out for its narrative of grit against glory. This Thursday, the London Stadium plays host to the second leg of a duel that has thus far underscored the contrasting fortunes of its protagonists. The Hammers, erstwhile darlings of European nights, are now up against the Herculean task of overturning a two-goal deficit against a side that have dominated the European football discourse this season.

          Date: 18/04/2024

          Kick-off time: 20:00

          Location: London Stadium

          West Ham, currently sitting 8th in the Premier League with 48 points, have experienced a campaign of solid performances tempered by moments of stark challenges. This season was marked by high expectations following a spell of commendable performances in Europe, having reached the semi-finals of this competition in the 2021-22 season before winning the Europa Conference League last season. These achievements not only bolstered their reputation but also heightened the ambitions among the fanbase and within the club itself.

          However, this term's European journey paints a different picture. In the first leg of this quarter-final, David Moyes' side found themselves overwhelmingly outplayed. The statistics from the game are telling: a mere 27% possession and just one shot on goal reflect a team that was consistently on the back foot. Bayer Leverkusen, by contrast, unleashed a barrage of 33 shots, highlighting the disparity in attacking thrust. The eventual breach of West Ham's defence came late in the game, with Jonas Hoffman breaking the deadlock in the 83rd minute, followed by Victor Boniface doubling the lead shortly after. This late collapse was a microcosm of a game that saw West Ham mostly confined to their half, marshalling their resources in a bid to contain a relentless Leverkusen.

          The challenges for Moyes do not stop with just the need to overturn a 0-2 deficit. Squad depth and fitness are pressing concerns, with key players missing for the pivotal game. This compounds the task at hand, where West Ham not only need to prevent Leverkusen from scoring but also find the net multiple times themselves.

          In stark contrast to their English counterparts, Bayer Leverkusen approach the second leg with an air of invincibility that has been the hallmark of their season. Under the stewardship of Xabi Alonso, Leverkusen have not only topped the Bundesliga but are also on the verge of completing a historic unbeaten season. With 76 points in their domestic league and the title all but secured, their focus is now undivided in their pursuit of European glory.

          Leverkusen's first-leg performance, though initially frustrating, eventually showcased their superiority and depth. Despite the delay in opening the scoring, their persistent pressure paid off, placing them in a commanding position for the return leg. Their late goals not only demoralised West Ham but also demonstrated Leverkusen's ability to sustain their assault and capitalise on their chances.

          The luxury of having already wrapped up the Bundesliga allows Leverkusen to channel their energies towards adding a second Europa League title to their cabinet, their first being in 1988. This focus could prove crucial in maintaining their unbeaten run and conquering Europe once more.

          From a tactical standpoint, West Ham are likely to adopt a more aggressive posture at home, given the deficit they need to recover. This could see Moyes tweaking his formation to support more forward thrust, possibly at the risk of exposing his defence to Leverkusen’s counter-attacks. Key to West Ham's hopes will be their ability to create and capitalise on set-piece opportunities, a scenario where they have shown prowess in the past.

          Leverkusen, comfortable with a two-goal cushion, might opt for a balanced approach, maintaining their fluid attacking style while being cautious not to commit too many players forward. Alonso’s tactics will likely include controlling the pace of the game and exploiting any gaps in West Ham’s push forward.

          As the lights brighten over the London Stadium this Thursday, West Ham face a monumental challenge, one that tests their resolve and their capacity to defy odds. Leverkusen, riding high on confidence and form, will look to cement their place in the semifinals. The game sets up not just as a clash of clubs but as a battle of contrasting football philosophies and seasons. For West Ham, it is about salvaging pride and possibility, while for Leverkusen, it is about asserting dominance and continuing a dream run. Whichever way the pendulum swings, the night promises to be a memorable one in the annals of European football.

          Bayer Leverkusen To Win

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          Bayer Leverkusen To Win @ 1/1
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          Both Teams To Score

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          West Ham To Win Either Half

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          West Ham To Win Either Half @ 11/10
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          Team News

          West Ham Team News:

          The Hammers are possibly coming into this game without two players of monumental importance as Lucas Paquetá is confirmed to be absent through suspension while Jarrod Bowen is a major injury doubt.

          Maxwel Cornet could replace Paquetá in the starting XI, while Nayef Aguerd is a contender to come back into the starting XI at the heart of the defence.

          Bayer Leverkusen Team News:

          Xabi Alonso's men are doing excellently on the injury front as they come into this game with just one absentee: Czech forward Adam Hložek.

          First leg goalscorers Jonas Hofmann and Victor Boniface may have worked their way into Alonso's plans for Thursday's starting XI, but don't expect wholesale changes with the job not yet done.

          Form Guide

          West Ham's form has been mixed for the majority of the campaign and coming into this game the Hammers are amidst a down period having won just one of their last five games. Prior to the loss against Leverkusen, Moyes' men claimed a big 2-1 win away at Wolverhampton Wanderers, with the goals coming from Lucas Paquetá and James Ward-Prowse, which was preceded by a 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur, a 4-3 defeat at Newcastle United–a result that was particularly painful for the Hammers given they led the game 3-1, only to fall subject to a dramatic late comeback–and a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa.

          The Hammers have, in fairness, been slightly better on their own turf where they've won two and drawn three of their last five games, so there's cause for optimism there.

          Leverkusen are, as expected, in excellent form having won all of their last five games. Alonso's side haven't been out of form at any point this season and that's looking less like changing as the weeks pass by.

          Before beating West Ham, Leverkusen beat Union Berlin 1-0 away from home, Fortuna Düsseldorf (4-0), Hoffenheim (2-1) and Freiburg (2-3). Common goalscorers in recent weeks have been striker Patrik Schick, attacking midfielder Florian Wirtz and full-back Jeremie Frimpong.

          Footy Accumulators Prediction

          Despite their success in Europe in recent seasons, this is probably a bridge too far for Moyes' men. The Hammers simply aren't in good enough form to challenge a rampant side of Leverkusen's quality, and moreover the absence of Lucas Paquetá and (possibly) Jarrod Bowen lands a significant blow to whatever chances they had. They may well give a good account of themselves, but as they're forced to come out and chase the game Alonso's side will likely pick them off. West Ham 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen.

          Don’t forget to check out the rest of our previews, tips and offers for this weekend’s action. Footy Accumulators is the #1 football betting site for the latest on betting in the UK - download the Betting Hub app for more!

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          Where To Watch

          This game will be aired live to all subscribed U.K. viewers on TNT Sports 2.