Moyes’ men face a huge task against unbeaten Bayer

Bayer Leverkusen v West Ham United – UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg – BayArena – Thursday (8pm) – Preview

West Ham United face a huge task if they are to reach a third-successive European semi-final when they take on Bundesliga champions-elect, Bayer Leverkusen at the BayArena.

The German outfit is on the cusp of ending Bayern Munich’s stranglehold on German football which has lasted more than a decade. Indeed, Leverkusen are unbeaten in all of their forty-one matches in all competitions this season and holds a sixteen-point advantage in the title race.

On top of all that, Hammers boss, David Moyes has severe injury issues to contend with. Leading marksman, Jarrod Bowen misses the tie after limping off during the East Londoners Premier League victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux at the weekend. The Scotsman is also without goalkeeper, Alphonse Areola and midfielder Kalvin Phillips through injury, while Edson Alvarez is suspended.

Nevertheless, Moyes sees the game as a challenge: “I see it as a great opportunity, I really do,” he told www.whufc.com.

“We’ve had a pretty good run in Europe, we’ve played a lot of good teams in Europe and as things go, the challenge we’ve got against a team who are 16 points clear in the Bundesliga is a big one. But one hopefully that we can rise to and perform well.

“It might feel similar to the Sevilla tie when the expectation was with the opponent, but we’ve grown as a Club since then.

“We’ve had a really good run of getting to a semi-final and a final, so I don’t think we’re coming here without an expectancy of doing well.

Our record in Europe has been pretty good – we’ve won the group stages in all three years we’ve been in it. We’ve gone on quite far in it and we’re looking forward to it.

“It’ll be a really difficult game, but one we’re looking forward to, and it’s a two-legged tie as well.”

Leverkusen boss, Xabi Alonso also has injury worries in his squad, with Adam Hložek and Nathan Tella struggling after coming off during their single-goal success over Union Berlin last time out.

Jeevesie’s prediction: Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 West Ham United

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Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk