With the tie delicately poised following a 1-1 draw in London, Lyon play host to West Ham United in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final at the Groupama Stadium on Thursday night.
Either Barcelona or Eintracht Frankfurt awaits the winner in the final four, and the first leg was not without a healthy dose of controversy.
From Aaron Cresswell’s controversial red card, Moussa Dembele’s Cristiano Ronaldo-esque wink and a pitch invader inexplicably running onto the field when the hosts were on the attack, West Ham and Lyon’s first leg of their quarter-final certainly did not disappoint.
Despite losing Cresswell to an early bath just before the half-time whistle blew, the 10 men of West Ham managed to strike first through Jarrod Bowen – back from injury with a bang – but Tottenham Hotspur loanee Tanguy Ndombele finished from close range to restore parity for Les Gones.
Peter Bosz’s side head into the second leg having just played out another two-goal stalemate in Ligue 1 with surprise package Strasbourg, but that result certainly came at a cost, with no fewer than three integral players being forced off injured at the Stade de la Meinau.
Still waiting for their first taste of success in the Europa League in its current format, Lyon’s spot in a semi-final for the first time since 2016-17 is far from guaranteed, but they at least come into the second leg on the back of a five-game unbeaten run, with four of them ending in draws.
Only one of Lyon’s last six games across all competitions has ended in victory, but they are one of only two sides who began the Europa League in the group stage yet to lose in this season’s tournament – the other being Eintracht Frankfurt – and West Ham are not too high on confidence themselves.
West Ham United manager David Moyes on April 7, 2022© Reuters
West Ham needed no second invitation to make their feelings known following Cresswell’s controversial red card, and the quick turnaround for the weekend’s Premier League clash with Brentford certainly affected them in that London derby.
David Moyes’s side are now considered rank outsiders for a top-four finish after Bryan Mbeumo and Ivan Toney combined twice to hand Brentford a 2-0 win on their own patch at the weekend, so it would not be surprising to see Moyes prioritise success in the Europa League.
Having to face Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City before the Premier League season concludes does not spell optimism for West Ham’s 2022-23 European hopes, and they have now posted just three wins from nine since the start of March – all of which have come at the London Stadium.
Defeat at the Brentford Community Stadium marked a fifth loss in a row for West Ham away from home – during which time they have only managed to find the back of the net twice – but Lyon’s recent spate of injuries are there to be taken advantage of.
However, West Ham have been eliminated from Europe on each of the last three occasions that they have failed to win a knockout leg at home, and the Groupama Stadium is a daunting ground no matter what shape Lyon’s injury-hit side may be in.