Bayer Leverkusen Match Preview

West Ham United will have to negotiate another trip to Germany if they are to end the night with one foot in a UEFA Europa League semi-final but they face probably the toughest test since they first qualified for European competition on a consistent basis at the end of the 2020/21 season.

After overcoming the challenge of SC Freiburg with a 5-1 win on aggregate, the Hammers face another Bundesliga side in the shape of Bayer Leverkusen.

If David Moyes manages to guide his players to a win over two legs against Xabi Alonso’s side, it will be a major achievement as tonight’s hosts are yet to lose a single match this campaign.

The visitors will be full of confidence going into this encounter, having come from behind to win 2-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers just five days earlier. They may not have won on their last visit to Germany back on March 7 but there is no reason why they can’t inflict a first defeat on the runaway Bundesliga leaders here.

Although the Irons know that they are capable of turning deficits around in Europe, they will hope that they don’t have to do this and can take some sort of advantage into next week’s second-leg and make it another great occasion under the lights in Stratford.

The two teams have already locked horns this season, as they met in what was the last pre-season friendly for the Hammers back on August 5. They lost 4-0 on that occasion but this will mean much more in the course of what has been another brilliant season.

Despite returning from a two-match ban against Gary O’Neill’s men, Edson Álvarez is again suspended after being booked in the second-leg of their Round of 16 tie, while an even bigger blow to Moyes is the news that Jarrod Bowen will not be involved tonight, though it was announced on Tuesday that his hip injury is not serious.

Michail Antonio certainly made an impact when he was introduced as a half-time substitute at Molineux on Saturday and he will be hoping to earn another start here, while Moyes stated in his pre-match news conference on Wednesday that Manchester City loanee Kalvin Phillips will not be in the matchday squad, as he sustained a hamstring injury in training earlier this week.

The match is an 8pm kick-off and live coverage is being screened by TNT Sports from 7:30pm. The referee is Artur Dias.