It must have been frustrating for West Ham United fans to make the journey to Andalusia only for their side to come up short against Sevilla. The La Liga outfit won the first leg of their Europa League round of 16 tie against David Moyes’ side 1-0 courtesy of a well-orchestrated set piece finished by Munir on the hour mark. Currently second in La Liga, but some way off catching Real Madrid, the 2020 Europa League winners have a fantastic track record in Europe’s secondary competition, and are tipped as favourites to go all the way according to the bet exchange.
Not all hope should be lost for West Ham though. The Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan is a tough place to visit, and the Spaniards have scalped plenty of English sides over the years including Manchester United and Liverpool. Let’s take a look at why the Irons should still be optimistic about their hopes of reaching the quarterfinals.
As much as Sevilla tried to make their atmosphere a real cauldron, the West Ham players kept their cool and still played well despite conceding an avoidable goal. Say what you want about the marking from a defensive point of view, but their set-piece was well taken and overall, Sevilla probably deserved to just edge it.
However, not many of those Sevilla players will have experienced east London before and the boisterous crowd will certainly have an influence on affairs in the second leg. At the end of the day, the game is essentially a free hit for the Irons, who have that real sense of the unknown in Europe which gives their fans that little bit more belief that they can turn things around.
A solid performance
When you look at the game objectively, West Ham certainly held a good account of themselves. They faced a side who have beaten current La Liga holders Atlético Madrid this season and only two years ago beat Inter Milan to win the Europa League behind closed doors. Moyes was complimentary of his side’s performance, and having briefly managed in Spain with Real Sociedad, he knows West Ham still have a lot to play for.
“We came up against a really good European team, an experienced team and I thought we came really close tonight to getting a draw.” He said “Sevilla have got a really good style – it’s why they’re second in La Liga, it’s why they are ahead of so many good clubs, so you have to look at them and say you’re up against a big opposition.
“But I thought we ran them really close tonight and I’m sure we’ll run them close when we play them next week as well.”
Nothing to lose
Just getting into Europe should be viewed as a massive achievement for West Ham, but they can’t be sentimental heading into the second leg. The possibility of facing a Barcelona or an RB Leipzig should be that extra motivation Moyes and co. need to push on. If they score an early goal the roof will come off the London Stadium, and we doubt that those emotional Sevilla players will be able to cope with the heat of that east London pressure cooker, even if they live in Andalusia’s hot temperatures!
The first leg saw West Ham squander a lot of chances, and there won’t be that room for error in the second leg, but there is no shame throwing everything they have at Julen Lopetegui’s side should they still trail at the interval. With their domestic hopes of finishing in the top four looking less and less likely, the path back to Seville for the final looks like the only way the Irons will be able to play in the Champions League next term, and what a thrill it would be to stop Sevilla lifting the trophy in their own backyard.