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Europa League previews: Liverpool vs Atalanta, Bayer Leverkusen vs West Ham

The Europa League quarter-finals are set to take centre stage this Thursday with eight teams battling to make the final trip to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. 


The Europa League quarter-finals are set to take centre stage this Thursday with eight teams battling to make the final trip to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. 

Premier League sides, Liverpool and West Ham United face stern tests against tough opponents. While Liverpool are tipped to secure victory over a struggling Atalanta side, West Ham will be playing the best team in Europe this season and will look to return to their characteristic defensive set-up to keep out a rampaging Bayer Leverkusen side.

Here’s a preview of the two games:

Liverpool vs Atalanta

Liverpool host Serie A side, Atalanta at Anfield on Thursday by 8 PM BST. After taking a blow in their Premier League title chase with a 2:2 draw against Manchester United, the Reds will look to make amends when they host Atalanta to keep their treble hopes alive.

Earmarked as favourites to win the competition, Jürgen Klopp’s side recorded an emphatic 5:1 win over Sparta Prague, becoming the first side to defeat the Czech League Champions at home in 16 matches.

The victory over Sparta at ebet Arena also meant Liverpool ended an 11-match winless run away from home in Europa League knockout stages.

Ahead of the clash against Atalanta, the Reds will hope to avoid a repetition of the result at Anfield the last time these two teams met where Atalanta emerged 2:0 winners. Demand for Europa League tickets is high so we should expect a sold-out Anfield on Thursday night.

After playing out a 1:1 draw with Sporting CP in the first-leg of the round of 16 at Estádio José Alvalade, Gian Piero Gasperini’s side came from a goal down to record a 2:1 win at home to seal qualification to the next round with a 3:2 aggregate score.

Atalanta are going into this game after suffering a blow in their top-four pursuit. La Dea recorded successive defeats against Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia and relegation-threatened Cagliari in the Serie A.

They now travel to one of the strongest fortresses in world football, a ground where the Reds have not recorded any loss this season and Gasperini’s side will need to recover from their successive losses to put up a commanding performance at Anfield.

The winner after the two legs of this clash will face either Benfica or Marseille in the semi-final.

Team news 

First-choice goalkeeper, Alisson Becker is out injured while Stefan Bajcetic is stepping up his recuperation from injury but will be absent from this clash.

Thiago Alcantara is unlikely to feature again this season, placing him among Liverpool’s longest absentees alongside Joel Matip who is out of the season with a knee injury.

Vice-captain, Trent Alexander-Arnold along with Diogo Jota and Ben Doak are all unavailable with knee injuries.

For Atalanta, Charles De Ketelaere returned to the team after recovering from an abductor injury.

Giorgio Scalvini remains Atalanta’s most notable absentee with the 20-year-old ruled out of the trip to Anfield with a persisting hamstring injury.


Klopp has been successful all through his stint at Anfield, winning every possible silverware available, except one- the Europa League!

The Reds played in the final of the 2015-16 Europa League but lost out to eventual champions, Sevilla.

They will hope to make amends and the players will be ready for it.

Atalanta on the other hand are coming into this fixture at the back of two wins in their last five matches across all competitions.

The likes of Teun Koopmeiners and Ademola Lookman are capable of causing Liverpool problems but the overall form and performance of Liverpool are better and stronger.

We’re predicting a 3:1 win for Liverpool.

Bayer Leverkusen vs West Ham United

West Ham travel to Germany to face treble-chasing Bayer Leverkusen at Bay Arena on Thursday by 8:00 PM BST.

The UEFA Conference League reigning champions completely dismantled Freiburg en route to the quarter-finals.

They lost the first leg clash 1:0 at Europa-Park Stadion. After much controversy over a last-minute penalty to West Ham being brushed out, David Moyes ensured his troupes left no room for controversies to record a comprehensive 5:0 win over the Breisgau Brazilians.

The Hammers will hope to extend their streak of successive semifinals in European competitions after reaching the Europa League semifinals in the 2021-22 season and the Conference League 2022-23 semifinals where they eventually emerged as champions.

However, facing the most in-form team in Europe this season will be a daunting task for the Hammers who have recorded only one win since the 5:0 demolition of Freiburg. Although the two teams have never met in a competitive fixture, Xabi Alonso’s side showcased a sneak peek of what they are capable of when they outclassed West Ham to a 4:0 win in a pre-season friendly last summer.

Leverkusen have won their last six consecutive matches and will hope to extend their unbeaten run to 42 matches when they host the Hammers on Thursday night.

In their round of 16 clashes, Qarabag were the closest to ending Leverkusen’s unbeaten streak but Alonso’s side have developed a knack for scoring late goals and finding late winners.

This was the case when the Azerbaijan side took a 2:0 lead in the first-leg clash before Patrick Schick inspired the Black and Reds to a 2:2 draw. A similar precedent happened in the second leg after Qarabağ took a 2:0 lead, but Leverkusen did not just come back to level the scoring, they went on to score an extra-time winner to seal qualification into the quarter-finals.

They are on course for a historic treble with the Bundesliga, DFB Cup and Europa League in sight.

The winner from this tie after two legs will set a date with either AC Milan or AS Roma in the semi-finals.

Team news 

Alonso will be without Adam Hlozek who was taken off with an ankle injury in the first half of their win over Union Berlin last weekend.

Nathan Tella was also withdrawn in the second half with a hip problem.

Brazilian right-back, Arthur is doubtful for the clash and will face a late fitness test to determine his availability for the clash against the Hammers.

On a positive note for Alonso, four-time Bundesliga rookie of the month, Victor Boniface made a return to the pitch after suffering an abductor injury in December. The 23-year-old will hope to play a part in the quarter-final clash on Thursday night.

West Ham are sweating over the fitness of talisman, Jarrod Bowen who was forced off in the second half with an injury concern in the victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend.

The 27-year-old is in a race against time to be fit for the crucial first-leg clash against Leverkusen and Moyes will hope his top-scorer will shrug off his injury concern in time to face the soon-to-be Bundesliga Champions.

Alphonse Areola will miss this clash with a groin injury while Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek who were both withdrawn at the break last weekend are reported to be fit with their substitution believed to be a precautionary measure.


Leverkusen are expected to dominate the game on home soil with Florian Wirtz and Jeremie Frimpong pulling the strings. However, the Hammers have gotten used to settling in defence and causing problems on the counter.

A low-scoring affair is expected in this match with West Ham tipped to keep the scoreline low ahead of the crucial second-leg clash in the London Stadium.

We’re predicting a 1:1 draw. 

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