Europa League 2021/22 Preview: West Ham and Lyon eye semi-final berth!
Lyon vs West Ham: Europa League Preview
The UEFA Europa League has reached a decisive stage as West Ham United are just a game away from making it to the semi-final of this season's competition.
The team from the English capital was held to a 1-1 draw at the London Stadium after Jarrod Bowen's opening goal was cancelled out by Tottenham loane Tanguy Ndombele. The return leg promises to be a tasty affair as teams prepare for the second leg showdown.
Lyon vs West Ham: Journey so far
The first leg encounter was the first time these two teams met in a competitive game. Lyon had a near-perfect group stage where they ended with five wins and a solitary draw.
Lyon topped the group ahead of Rangers, Sparta Praha and Brondby as they scored 16 goals in the group stage.
Opponents West Ham had a stern challenge in the last round as they overcame six-time champions, Sevilla while finishing as group winners ahead of Dinamo Zagreb, Rapid Wein and Genk.
In six group stage encounters, they amassed 13 points and lost only one match away from home against Sevilla.
Player Analysis | Lucas Paqueta vs Jarrod Bowen
Lucas Paqueta will be a key figure for Lyon against West Ham if they are to book their place in the semi-final of the Europa League.
The Brazilian has amassed two goals and an assist in Europe while contributing seven goals and five assists in 29 Ligue 1 matches. It is the 24-year-old player's ability to strive in the midfield and passes in the final third that makes him a dangerous player to handle.
Paqueta is the chief architect for Moussa Dembele, who has been scalping goals for fun in both Europe and domestically. Keeping the Brazilian silent will be key for West Ham if they are to book their place in the semis.
Jarrod Bowen, on the contrary, has been West Ham's best player in the current season, the former Hull City midfielder has added a new dimension to his game by scoring nine Premier League goals, along with eight assists to his name.
Although the 25-year-old has scored only two goals in Europe, none would have been more important than the one he scored in the first leg.
After Aaron Cresswell was sent off, Bowen gave the Hammers a lead, which was later cut short by Tottenham loane Tanguy Ndombele.
However, Bowen will be a key feature for the East London outfit if they are to win their first European trophy since the days of great Bobby Moore, who led West Ham to the 1965 Cup Winners Cup Trophy.
After an absorbing first leg, both West Ham and Lyon struggled to make an impact in their domestic leagues.
David Moyes' side was capitulated to a one-sided 2-0 defeat by fellow Londoners Brentford in a London derby. Aaron Cresswell who played in the match, won't be available due to suspension after he was given his marching orders in the first leg.
For Lyon, the situation wasn't different but somehow managed to scalp a point against Strasbourg on the weekend, thanks to a 90th-minute equaliser from Karl Toko Ekambi, a result that dented Strasbourg's Champions League qualification prospects.
The Europa League presents the best possible opportunity for both West Ham and Lyon to get into Champions League as their domestic form would likely keep them away from Europe's elite cup competition.