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One of the picks of the Europa League last-16 draw takes us to Andalusia in southern Spain as Sevilla – going great guns in La Liga – take on a West Ham side regularly punching above their weight in the Premier League
Sevilla find themselves in the Europa League after failing to make it out of a Champions League group that they should perhaps have done better in, while the Hammers made light work of their Europa League foursome to bypass the play-off round and head straight to this stage of the competition.
But David Moyes’ side are just stuttering a tad domestically and could be without star man Jarrod Bowen, who was carried off during their defeat to Liverpool on Saturday evening.
And the hosts are in great home form, so let’s see how we can convert these clues into some expert football betting tips for Thursday night’s clash.
Sevilla have the best points-per-game record at home in La Liga, ahead of the likes of Real and Atletico Madrid, so West Ham have a huge task ahead of them if they’re to take anything back to London with them.
The Spaniards have lost just once in 17 home games in all competitions this season, in a 2-1 Champions League defeat to Lille in November, meaning they haven’t been beaten at all at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium in domestic competition.
And although West Ham haven’t been at their best in the Premier League in the last month or so, they were excellent during their Europa League group stage campaign, including two away wins and a draw in their three trips away from the London Stadium.
But a visit to Sevilla is a different test entirely and with the Hammers potentially missing Bowen for this one, we think that swings the destiny of this first leg into the hands of the hosts.
The Andalusians’ last home game saw them beat Real Betis 2-1, so they’re battle-ready for the big occasion, so we like the Sevilla win at odds of 23/20 (888sport), which is a price that’s on offer with most of the popular sports betting sites.
Sitting eight points behind Real Madrid means an unlikely La Liga title charge is probably beyond Sevilla now, but this has been their best domestic showing for some time and they’re a shoo-in to qualify automatically for next season’s Champions League.
Their home form has been the bedrock of their excellent campaign, and they head into this one with seven home wins in their last nine.
They haven’t been blowing teams away when it comes to goals, but the most impressive thing about Sevilla this season has been their defensive record, which has seen them concede just 18 goals in 27 matches, which is three fewer than Real Madrid and a whopping 16 fewer than the notoriously rigid Atletico Madrid.
Midfielder Thomas Delaney will miss the first leg through suspension, while winger Suso is continuing his recovery from an ankle injury.
After spending a number of years battling relegation, West Ham are now an established European challenger under David Moyes.
The Hammers are an excellent all-round side these days, packed with defensive solidity, along with match-winners in the final third.
But can they cope without Jarrod Bowen? The club’s top scorer is almost certain to be out of this one, and with Michail Antonio on a run of just one goal in his last ten games, there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of a goal threat ahead of a trip to the toughest hunting ground in Spain.
The only long-term injury absentee for West Ham is Angelo Ogbonna, who will be out until next season with a knee problem.
Unsurprisingly, this will be the first ever meeting between these two sides.
The Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium plays host to the first leg, and it’s the ninth-largest stadium in Spain, with a capacity of just over 42,700.
The ground was named after former president Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, who oversaw great success during two spells at the club between 1932 and 1956.
It’s a clash between two of the competition’s big hitters, but Sevilla have made a name for themselves as a fearsome opponent in the Europa League and we think their experience in this competition will tell against a West Ham side that don’t come into this one in the best of shape.
The Hammers will certainly make life difficult and we’re not expecting many goals in Andalusia, but we make Sevilla favourites to extend their unbeaten home run to eleven games with a victory here.