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Back a West Ham United to win in the Caesars sportsbook.
The Premier League side is enjoying another fine season and Lyon will struggle to avoid defeat at the London Stadium.
West Ham are not mathematically out of the top-four race in the Premier League just yet, but it would be a major surprise if they finished above each of Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester United. There is no shame in that.
West Ham exceeded expectations by finishing sixth last season; this time around they have shown they are not just a flash in the pan. David Moyes was not a universally popular appointment when he returned to the London Stadium in late 2019, but he has done a fine job in his second spell as West Ham boss.
This is not the club’s first taste of European soccer in the Premier League era, but it is the first time West Ham have looked like a genuine force in continental competition. In their last two appearances, they did not even make it to the group stage: the Hammers suffered ignominious defeats by Romanian outfit Astra Giurgiu in 2015/16 and 2016/17. Back in 2006/07, they were knocked out by Palermo in the first round.
This season, though, West Ham have performed as if they are seasoned participants in the Europa League.
They topped their group with a minimum of fuss, winning four of their first five matches before losing to Dinamo Zagreb when a place in the last 16 had already been secured. West Ham lost 1-0 to Sevilla in the first leg last month, but a 2-0 victory after extra time back at the London Stadium booked their place in the quarter-finals.
West Ham have not been this far in European competition since a run to the last eight of the now-defunct Cup Winners’ Cup in 1981. Thanks to Moyes and his players, the club’s supporters are daring to dream of Europa League glory this term.
The winners of the Europa League are not just awarded a trophy but also a place in the group stage of the Champions League.
That is a significant incentive for West Ham and Lyon, both of whom look set to miss out on the qualification spots in their domestic leagues. Indeed, Lyon is currently closer to the bottom half of the Ligue 1 table than they are to the top three.
This has been a turbulent campaign for Lyon. They were docked one point after crowd trouble forced their home game against Marseille to be abandoned, but such a minor deduction does not explain why one of France’s biggest clubs finds itself halfway down the standings. Indeed, Lyon’s inconsistency is to blame for their failure to keep pace not only with the champions-elect Paris Saint-Germain but also with the likes of Marseille, Rennes, and Nice.
Fans of Peter Bosz’s former sides, including Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen, will not be at all surprised. Bosz is a boom and bust manager. His teams are capable of tremendous highs and embarrassing lows – sometimes within the same month. And so it has proved at the Groupama Stadium this season.
Lyon seems to have saved their best performances for Europe. They took 16 points from a possible 18 in the group phase, before eliminating Porto in the round of 16. West Ham should not underestimate them despite their domestic struggles.
The London Stadium has not always been popular with West Ham supporters. That is partly because many did not want to leave their spiritual home of Upton Park, and partly because the London Stadium is not a soccer-specific ground. Its location next to a shopping center goes against the grain, while the distance between the stands and the pitch is far larger than most supporters would want.
However, the London Stadium generated an almighty din when West Ham beat Sevilla last month. Moyes has called on the fans to produce a similar atmosphere when Lyon comes to town on Thursday. With the second leg taking place at the Groupama Stadium, West Ham will likely need a positive result in the first leg to stand a chance of progressing.
We think it is worth backing them to get it. West Ham is the type of team Lyon often struggle against. They are resolute, gritty, and tough to break down. They boast an impressive home record too, having beaten Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester City (albeit on penalties) in east London this season.
Lyon have been reliable in Europe so far, but their inconsistent nature means it is difficult to know which version of the side will turn up. If they are below par on Thursday, West Ham will take full advantage.
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|West Ham United vs Lyon Information|
|Teams||West Ham United vs Lyon|
|Location||London Stadium, London, England|
|Time||Thursday, 7 April 2022, 03.00 PM EDT|
|How to watch||Paramount+|
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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