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Back Lyon to beat West Ham in the Caesars sportsbook.
The Ligue 1 side are in pole position to advance to the next round and they should get the job done in front of their fans.
Before the first leg got underway, Lyon might have gladly settled for a 1-1 draw at the London Stadium, a ground where Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, and Liverpool have all been defeated this season. By the end of the game, though, the visitors were somewhat disappointed.
Lyon was the better team last Thursday and should have left the English capital with a first-leg lead. Instead, a 1-1 draw leaves this tie in the balance.
The biggest moment of the match came in stoppage time at the end of the first half. Moussa Dembele went down under the challenge of Aaron Cresswell, who was controversially shown a red card by the referee for what was deemed to be the denial of a clear goalscoring opportunity. From that moment on West Ham faced an uphill struggle, forced to play half a match against a very good side with one fewer player.
Despite that significant setback, it was West Ham who drew first blood early in the second half. Jarrod Bowen, whose return to full fitness is a major boost for the Hammers, found the net via a deflected shot. However, Lyon drew level through Tanguy Ndombele, the Tottenham loanee, 14 minutes later.
The French outfit had plenty of opportunities to score a second, but a mix of resolute West Ham defending and profligate finishing kept the score at 1-1. Lyon took 23 shots to the Hammers’ five, and although only four of their efforts were on target they racked up an expected goals figure of 2.39 (West Ham’s was 0.51).
Lyon’s task was aided by the contentious decision to dismiss Cresswell just before the interval, but they were nevertheless the better team on the night by some distance.
That does not mean West Ham should be written off ahead of the second leg. Even with 10 men, David Moyes’ men caused their opponents problems last week, particularly in the opening 20 minutes of the second half.
West Ham has proven themselves to be a quality team over the last two seasons. After finishing sixth last term, many felt they would struggle to repeat the feat this time around.
Yet the Hammers are through to the last eight of the Europa League and retain (admittedly slim) hopes of finishing in the top four in the Premier League. The team is settled and every player knows his job, which is a testament to Moyes’ managerial acumen.
With the likes of Bowen, Declan Rice, Michail Antonio, and Said Benrahma, West Ham have some top-class players. They are also a gritty and spirited side whose members do not know when they are beaten. That could help them at the Groupama Stadium on Thursday.
Lyon has been plagued by inconsistency throughout this campaign. They are probably capable of reaching a higher level of performance than West Ham, but they are not as reliable as Moyes’ men – as their present position in the mid-table of Ligue 1 indicates.
It is hard to know which version of Lyon will turn up, although given the high stakes involved on Thursday we are likely to see an accomplished display from Les Gones.
Home advantage could also give them an edge. Lyon have only lost three games at the Groupama Stadium in all competitions this season.
They will be backed by a vociferous and passionate crowd on Thursday, and while West Ham are not the sort of team that are likely to flounder in such an environment, home support is undoubtedly a factor in big matches like this.
And for all that Lyon have been inconsistent in Ligue 1, their record in Europe is terrific: Peter Bosz’s side accumulated 16 points from a possible 18 in the group phase, before knocking out a Porto team that is on course to win the Premier Liga title in the knockout round play-offs. Lyon have been excellent in this competition, if not always in their domestic league.
Lyon will need to be sharper in and around the penalty area than they were at the London Stadium, but scoring goals has not really been a problem this season and Bosz will be pleased that his team were at least able to create several opportunities last time out. This should be another tight game, but go for a Lyon win.
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|Lyon vs West Ham United Information
|Lyon vs West Ham United
|Groupama Stadium, Lyon, France
|Thursday, 14 April 2022, 03.00 PM EDT
|How to watch
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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