West Ham v Eintracht Frankfurt
Thursday 28 April, 20:00
Live on BT Sport 1
Hammers benefiting from the right approach
As much as anything, West Ham’s progress to the semi-finals of the Europa League is a triumph of coaching. David Moyes failed in Europe as Everton boss (he dropped out of the Champions League and Europa League qualifiers in the same season), and spells with Manchester United and Real Sociedad damaged his reputation still further. The Glaswegian’s first spell as West Ham manager was about avoiding the drop, but the East London side now has loftier targets.
Moyes has selected strong line-ups from the get-go in this competition, and having won the group, they progressed against Sevilla thanks to a famous extra-time win at the London Stadium, an electrifying evening that perhaps finally cemented that arena as the Hammers’ true home. West Ham rode their luck at times against Lyon – they played much of the first leg with ten men after Aaron Cresswell was sent off, and they were on the back foot early in the second leg, before an excellent set piece and some incredibly clinical finishing turned the tie in their favour.
Like Frankfurt, West Ham’s European adventure has seen their domestic form suffer. They have won just four of their last 13 matches in the Premier League, and their hopes of making the top four have dwindled to virtually nil. A top-six place is still within reach, largely due to the decline of Manchester United.
There are big problems at centre-back, with Issa Diop, Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna all injured. It seems fanciful to suggest that Declan Rice will drop into the back three, so expect full-backs like Vladimir Coufal and Aaron Cresswell to support Craig Dawson. The front line of Pablo Fornals, Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio is fit and should start.
Eagles hope to avoid English deja vu
Eintracht Frankfurt is a club that remembers and reveres its heroes. The legendary Jurgen Grabowski – who sadly passed away recently – still has his name sung before every home game as part of a rousing and raucous anthem by SGE-supporting thrash metal band Tankard, and there was an enormous banner of Grabowski raised by fans before one of the games in this incredible Europa League run.
Now the likes of Filip Kostic, Martin Hinteregger, Daichi Kamada and Kevin Trapp can write their own entries in the Frankfurt fairytale, having already helped the club reach the UEL semi-finals in 2019. On that occasion they went out to English opposition, losing in agonising fashion on penalties to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The current Eintracht class is determined not to suffer the same fate, and they have reasons to be confident. The Eagles topped their Europa League group, came through an incredibly tight tie against Real Betis, and then remarkably dumped the tournament favourites Barcelona out by winning at Camp Nou. Having outplayed Barca in Frankfurt in a 1-1 draw, Frankfurt overwhelmed their much-vaunted opponents in Catalunya, winning 3-2 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate. Tens of thousands of Frankfurt fans had flooded the city, and having roared their way down the Avinguda Diagonal and Las Ramblas, they filtered into Camp Nou, claiming it as their own.
Coach Oliver Glasner worked wonders with Wolfsburg last season as he secured a top-four finish, and this achievement matches if not eclipses that. The league form has suffered, Unai Emery-style, with just three wins from the last 14, but you’ll struggle to find too many Frankfurt fans who are worried about that. The Hessen club have gone all-in on the continental stage.
Influential defender Evan N’Dicka and Croatian midfielder Kristijan Jakic are both suspended, so Djibril Sow should fill the void in midfield, and the experiences Makoto Hasebe could be selected in the back line. Star player Kostic is fit, and will operate on the left flank as always.
Hammers too short for their big night
I don’t think there’s much to choose between these sides, especially given West Ham’s personnel isuues at the back, and I can’t get on board with backing the hosts in the Match Odds market at 1.981/1. I’ll lay West Ham at that price, but you could also use the Sportsbook’s Bet Builder to back Frankfurt/Draw and Over 1.5 Goals in the match at 2.3611/8.
Frankfurt scored three goals in Sevilla against Betis and three more against Barcelona at Camp Nou, and I fancy them to score here. Even a 1-1 draw would do the trick, so the game doesn’t even have to get out of hand for the bet to land.
If you fancy Eintracht to get a couple of goals against that depleted West Ham rearguard, you could back them to score Over 1.5 Goals themselves at 9/4.
Hammers to count the Kostic?
Eintracht’s Filip Kostic has had another exceptional season, putting a row over a failed summer transfer to Lazio behind him. The Serbian wing wizard scored twice in Barcelona, and he’s racked up three goals and three assists in the UEL this term. In the Bundesliga, he has scored four goals and set up a further nine.
You can use our new Score or Assist market on the Sportsbook to back Kostic at 2.77/4, which is an incredible price for a player in form. Meanwhile, defensive behemoth Martin Hinteregger is an enormous 17/1 to score at any time. The Austrian scored the decisive goal against Betis, and given West Ham’s lack of fit centre-backs, he might be able to dominate in the air at set plays.