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Europa Conference League Preview - Semi-Final 2nd Leg

The race to reach the Europa League Conference League final in Prague will draw to a conclusion on Thursday night as the second-legs of the semi-final ties will determine which two sides reach the second ever final.

West Ham United hold a narrow lead over AZ Alkmaar after victory in east London last week, while Basel left it late to snatch what could prove to a vital winner in Florence to down Fiorentin.


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AZ Alkmaar v West Ham United (1-2) 

The Europa Conference League tie between AZ Alkmaar and West Ham United is set to be an intense and closely contested match. West Ham currently hold the advantage after securing a 2-1 victory in the first leg at home. However, AZ Alkmaar will be determined to turn the tie around on their home turf.

AZ Alkmaar started strongly in the first leg, taking the lead through a long-range effort from Tijani Reijnders. However, West Ham staged an impressive comeback in the final 25 minutes, with a penalty from Said Benrahma and a goal from Michail Antonio securing the win for the Hammers.

AZ Alkmaar's manager, Pascal Jansen, will draw inspiration from his team's quarter-final triumph over Anderlecht, where they overturned a first-leg defeat to emerge victorious. The Dutch side also boasts an impressive unbeaten home record in European competition, winning 17 and drawing eight of their last 25 matches in Alkmaar.

West Ham, on the other hand, are in a strong position heading into the second leg. They have shown resilience throughout the tournament, winning matches even when conceding the opening goal. The Hammers are unbeaten in the Europa Conference League this season, with a 13-game unbeaten run.

However, West Ham's away form has been a concern, as they have lost six of their last 10 away matches in all competitions. Their most recent setback came in a 2-0 defeat against Brentford in the Premier League. Despite their domestic struggles, West Ham can now prioritize their European campaign, as they have all but secured their Premier League status for next season.

Alkmaar v West Ham Team News

AZ Alkmaar will be missing goalkeeper Sem Westerveld and defender Bruno Martins Indi due to injury, but they have options to replace them. West Ham's Antonio and Ogbonna, who missed the Brentford match, are expected to recover in time for the second leg.

Both teams have key players who will be crucial to their success. AZ Alkmaar will rely on the scoring prowess of Vangelis Pavlidis, who has been their top scorer in the Europa Conference League with five goals. West Ham will look to Michail Antonio, who is still in contention for the Golden Boot and has scored six goals in the tournament.



Basel v Fiorentina (2-1) 

Basel staged an impressive comeback in the first leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final after Arthur Cabral's opener for Fiorentina. Andy Diouf scored a stunning solo goal, and Zeki Amdouni sealed the victory with a dramatic 92nd-minute winner. Basel has a strong record against Fiorentina, having won two and drawn one of their three previous meetings.

Basel is on course to become the first Swiss club to reach a major European final. They have a history of success when winning the first leg away from home, having progressed from all six major European knockout ties under such circumstances. However, they come into the second leg on the back of a heavy 6-1 defeat against St Gallen in the Swiss Super League.

Fiorentina, under manager Vincenzo Italiano, will be determined to turn the tie around. They were disappointed with their performance in the first leg, particularly their failure to capitalize on their dominant start. The team's hopes of securing a top-six finish in Serie A are now mathematically over, so winning the Europa Conference League is their only path to European competition next season.

Fiorentina ended a three-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over Udinese in Serie A, with Gaetano Castrovilli and Giacomo Bonaventura on the scoresheet. They have been prolific in the Europa Conference League, scoring more goals than any other team in the competition (33). They have also been successful in away matches, winning their last five on the road.

However, Fiorentina faces the challenge of overturning a first-leg deficit. They have not progressed from any of their previous six European knockout ties in which they lost the first leg. The team's last such comeback occurred in the 1989-90 UEFA Cup.

Both teams have key players who will be instrumental in their quest for victory. Basel will rely on the attacking threat of Arthur Cabral, who is the top scorer in the Europa Conference League this season with seven goals. Fiorentina will look to Jonathan Ikone and Nicolas Gonzalez to provide the firepower up front.

Basel v Fiorentina Team News

Basel will be without defender Arnau Comas due to a long-term thigh injury, but otherwise, they have a fully-fit squad. Fiorentina rested Arthur Cabral but are expected to field him in the starting lineup alongside Ikone and Gonzalez.

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V: 1.35.0 All rights reserved. August 2021
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