Michail Antonio is expecting a “great” night for West Ham when they take on Lyon for a place in the Europa League semi-finals (Match Betting – Lyon 23/20, Draw 23/10, West ham 21/10).
After the drama of the midweek Champions League fixtures, the Europa League and Conference League take over and the Hammers and Les Gones are tied at 1-1 after last week’s opening leg at the London Stadium.
David Moyes will be without left-back Aaron Cresswell for the game after he was sent off for bringing down Moussa Dembele last week and Antonio is well aware of the threat Lyon pose.
The French club have struggled domestically this term, currently sitting 10th in Ligue 1 but are unbeaten at home in Europe this season and include the tournament’s joint-top goalscorer in Karl Toko Ekambi (13/8 – Anytime Scorer), who has six strikes to his name.
Antonio (3/1 – Anytime Scorer) has netted just once in the Europa League and is currently experiencing a goal drought having failed to add to his tally of 13 for the season in his last eight outings.
Even so, his confidence remains high and the 32-year-old believes he and his team can produce something special at the Groupama Stadium.
“The game’s going to be decided tomorrow and it needs to be decided by us,” he told the club’s website. “We need to go out there tomorrow and win the game.
“Even before what happened last week, today was going to be edgy, tomorrow’s going to be edgy, and tomorrow’s going to be great.”
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The winner of the tie will take on either Barcelona (6/5 – tournament outright) or Eintracht Frankfurt – who are also tied up at 1-1 – in the semi-finals, while on the other side of the draw, there is a 17:30 kick-off between RB Leipzig and Atalanta, who are also equal at one apiece.
Rangers could be their opponents as they trail Braga 1-0 ahead of Thursday’s return leg at an expectant Ibrox (Match Betting – Rangers 19/20, Draw 12/5, Braga 13/5).
With them six points behind Celtic in the league, it promises to be a huge few days for the Gers, with them also set to face the Bhoys in the Scottish Cup on Sunday.
Boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst believes home advantage can count against Braga and has called on his side’s supporters to give them an edge.
“Our fans are always important and they will be there with us starting with the warm-up, and they will be with us and pushing us the whole game to get a good result,” he said.
“The atmosphere we have at Ibrox is fantastic, especially in Europe, and they will be there and will be our twelfth man.”
There are also four Conference League clashes, including Leicester City’s trip to PSV Eindhoven, and Brendan Rodgers has called on his side to “make history” at 17:45 (Match Betting – PSV Evens, Draw 12/5, Leicester 12/5).
The Foxes (7/2 – tournament outright) have never made it past the last eight of a European competition and the tie is wide open after last week’s 0-0 draw at the King Power Stadium.
Having tasted success with last season’s FA Cup win, Rodgers has challenged his players to find a way to repeat that success in this competition.
“To be the first to do anything is always nice,” Rodgers said. “We had that feeling with the FA Cup and it was a great feeling. We are a club unlike PSV, because I’ve read that they have qualified for 48 European competitions on the trot which shows you the history they have in European competitions.”
“We are the complete opposite to that, very inexperienced, but the only way you do is by achieving. This is a great opportunity for us to do that. The first leg gives us great motivation that we can do that.”
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