West Ham look to end their 43-year wait for a major trophy as they take on Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final tonight in Prague. The Hammers last brought silverware back to east London in 1980 when they won the FA Cup, with the current crop of players the first West Ham squad to play in a European final for 47 years.
David Moyes’ side have had a largely frustrating season domestically, the threat of relegation a very real one heading into the final couple of months of the campaign. Another European run has lifted the mood though, and victory tonight will secure West Ham’s place in the Europa League next season. Declan Rice will lead the side out, in what is likely to be his final appearance for the club before a big-money summer move.
Fiorentina last won a major European trophy back in 1961, but will believe they are capable of ending that long wait tonight. They finished eighth in Serie A this season, and booked their place in this final with a stunning 129th-minute winner against Basel in the last-four. Follow Fiorentina vs West Ham with Standard Sport’s LIVE blog below, featuring expert analysis from Malik Ouzia at the ground.
West Ham team news
Starting XI: Areola, Coufal, Zouma, Aguerd, Emerson, Soucek, Rice, Paqueta, Bowen, Antonio, Benrahma
Subs: Fabianski, Johnson, Cresswell, Fornals, Lanzini, Downes, Cornet, Ings, Ogbonna, Kehrer, Potts, Mubama
The One and Only
Chesney Hawkes is out there in Prague… obviously.
Clearly one of the conditions for him getting a ticket was he had to perform as West Ham’s fan zone. A small price to pay.
Fiorentina left it late
Fair to say there was a bit of drama involved as Fiorentina booked their place in the final.
Their semi-final with Basel went to extra-time in the second leg and looked destined for penalties until Antonin Barak struck in the 129th – yes, 129th – minute.
Moyes: I want to stay
David Moyes insists he wants to stay on as West Ham manager next season, regardless of the outcome of tonight’s final.
In an exclusive interview with Standard Sport ahead of what he calls “one of the biggest nights in West Ham’s history”, Moyes says there is more he wants to achieve at the club despite being “hurt” and “drained” by calls from fans for him to be sacked this season.
It has been suggested West Ham are considering parting ways with Moyes this summer, while he has been linked with the Celtic job after Ange Postecoglou took over at Tottenham. But the Scot says he would still like to be in charge at the London Stadium next season.
“Of course I would,” said Moyes. “There are too many good things about what we have done, what we should still try and do – to stop now.
“The biggest thing I can say is how much I have enjoyed working here. I see things that I would like to change, to do things slightly differently but right now there is nothing in my head except how do we win this final?”
Moyes has opened up on criticism he received from supporters this season and admitted feeling “lonely” after a “Moyes Out” banner was displayed in the away end after a win at Craven Cottage in April.
“I know football is about the here and now and you can’t look back but it did hurt and it was disappointing,” said Moyes, who kept West Ham up after taking over for a second time in 2019-20 and led the club to the Europa League semi-finals last season.
“When I saw that banner it was hurtful because it drains your power and strength to do things. When people continually question you though, it drains you. I’ve got to say it wasn’t a good time. Did I feel lonely? Hugely.”
One final match
You know what being a final means? Montages. Lots and lots of montages.
Prepare to see hundreds of them tonight, and you can kick things off with this one. Get yourselves in the mood, West Ham fans…
Rice: We can be remembered forever
Declan Rice has urged his West Ham teammates to “create a legacy” that will see them “remembered forever” by winning tonight’s final.
Rice believes victory in what is expected to be his final game for the club would be his greatest achievement in football, with the 24-year-old preparing to lead the Hammers out in their first major European final since 1976.
The midfielder is set to be sold this summer, with the likes of Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Manchester United all pushing to seal a deal that could be worth around £100million.
Before then, however, Rice has the chance to join the legendary figures of Bobby Moore and Billy Bonds as the only West Ham captains to have ever lifted major silverware.
“This will be the biggest match that the Club has had in so long, so it’s going to be an honour to be part of and hopefully we can create some history on the night for the fans to cheer about,” Rice told the club website.
“We’ve already created history by getting to the final, but now there’s a chance to go and create a legacy where every single player, the manager, everyone involved will be remembered forever.
“I think it would be my biggest achievement I’ve had in football so far, 100 per cent.”
Malik Ouzia at the Eden Arena
The West Ham end must be about five per cent full, but you wouldn’t know it from the noise that has just greeted the players as they come out for a look around.
Several of them are wearing beaming smiles, as if they cannot believe the support two hours before kick-off.
How they got here…
It’s been a superb season in Europe for West Ham, a run that began last August and finishes ten months later tonight.
AEK Larnaca were seen off in the last-16 before David Moyes’ side beat Gent in the quarter-finals. That set up a last-clash with AZ Alkmaar, one that Pablo Fornals put to bed in the finals seconds of the second leg.
Arrests in Prague
Sixteen people have been detained following an attack by Fiorentina fans on West Ham supporters in Prague.
Videos on social media showed a group of hooded men throwing chairs and smashing glasses while Hammers fans sat in the bar on the city’s Rytirska Street.
A statement from Czech police said three people had been injured in the incident which also saw a police offer attacked.
“We have restricted the personal freedom of 16 people and we are currently investigating the whole incident,” the statement said.
More than 10,000 officers are on duty in the Czech capital with major security concerns around the game given the vast numbers of supporters who have travelled without tickets.