The Conference League has been a welcome distraction for manager David Moyes and his players during a mediocre to poor Premier League season. Now that relegation has been avoided, ‘The Hammers’ can fully focus on the final.
The last time West Ham won a major trophy was in 1980. Under manager John Lyall, the Hammers won the FA Cup in front of 100,000 spectators at Wembley at Arsenal’s expense.
On their way to the final after the winter break, the Londoners defeated AEK Larnaca of Cyprus, KAA Gent of Belgium and AZ of their country. At the London Stadium, Pascal Janssen’s team had the upper hand for a long time thanks to a goal scored by Tijani Reynders, but an error by goalkeeper Matthew Ryan shifted the momentum in favor of West Ham. The match in London ended 2-1 and in Alkmaar, David Moyes’ side beat Alkmaarders in stoppage time: 0-1.
There is also a lot at stake for Fiorentina on Wednesday. The Florence side finished the competition in a disappointing eighth place, losing the Coppa Italia final to Internazionale, and are therefore not entitled to a place in a European competition.
With the win over West Ham, this mediocre season was instantly forgotten. The winner of the Prague match will immediately qualify for the group stage of the Europa League, the second level in Europe, next season. Viola Gigliatti is therefore committed to winning this final.
The “Road to Prague” has gone somewhat to its peak for Vincenzo Italiano’s team. In the round of 32, Braga was easily put aside (0-4, 3-2), and in the eighth final, Florence had little trouble with Sivasspor, Turkey (1-0, 1-4), in the quarter-finals. Finals Lech Poznań, under coach John van den Brom, was not a problem (1-4, 2-3) and in the semi-finals the Italians only faced Basel (1-2, 1-3).
Clearly, both teams have a number of creatives who have performed well in the conference league this season. Fiorentina will have to pay close attention to striker Michail Antonio on Wednesday. The Jamaican forward has scored six goals already this season in the Conference League. Midfielders Said Benrahma and Declan Rice are two players who can be very dangerous.
On the other side of the Fiorentina side, all eyes are on strikers Arthur Cabral and Luka Jovic. Cabral is the top scorer in the Conference League with seven goals and Jovic also made a significant contribution during the European campaign with his six goals.
In addition, the Dutch viewer’s interest is naturally focused on Sofiane Amrabat. The Moroccan midfielder has been a World Cup revelation, and the former player of Utrecht and Feyenoord, among others, is expected to move to a bigger competition this summer. A good performance in a European final could provide the final boost.
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