With a chance at a rare piece of silverware, both Fiorentina and West Ham will aim to end their long trophy drought when they face each other tonight at the Eden Arena in Prague to play out the UEFA Conference League final.
Fiorentina are chasing a Europa League position for next season while they squandered the opportunity by losing the Coppa Italia final against Inter, the Viola got another shot at a title and an European berth by winning the Conference League. Since they lost the Italian cup final, they have picked up two crucial wins, against Roma and Sassuolo.
Vincenzo Italiano’s side looked promising at one part of the season when they went on a winning run of 10 consecutive games and the stretch helped them boost their league position. Despite some showings of promise, their season has been largely inconsistent and a slow start ruined their charge for a late European place.
Fiorentina finished 8th and just six points short of Juventus who gather the Conference League spot in 7th. Should The Viola clinch the title tonight, it would be the second-successive time an Italian team wins the Conference League, after Jose Mourinho’s did it last year in its inaugural season.
Meanwhile, West Ham approach this match on the back of a 2-1 defeat against relegated Leicester City in the final matchday of the Premier League. The defeat held them from achieving a higher finish in the league standings.
David Moyes’ side were relegation-threatened for most parts of the season but a consistent end to their campaign helped them not only go clear from the drop zone but grab a 14th-place finish. Considering their league finishes in the last few years, this season has been an underwhelming one for The Hammerers.
Despite their league shortcomings, The West London outfit has held an impressive record in European competitions this season, 12 wins and only a draw on the road to the final. The team contains the class and ability among the players but due to mismanagement, they haven’t been able to churn positive results in the Premier League or in the other cup competitions across the years.
Tonight is West Ham’s shot at rare glory and they will aim to put an end to their trophy-drought which has been going on for 43 years since they last won the F.A. Cup in 1980.
Results from their last five matches across all competitions
Vincenzo Italia rotated his team heavily in the victory against Sassuolo to keep this side fresh for the final.
The Italian manager has a fully fit squad available in his hands with the only exception of backup goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.
Nicolas Gonzalez is fit to start the match after crashing into the goalpost to score their final goal of the season.
Striker Arthur Cabral is set to keep his place in the starting eleven. Luca Jovic is expected to start from the bench. The left flank is up for grabs within the team.
As for West Ham, it could be the final game for star man Declan Rice as he looks for newer pastures but this won’t affect his game today.
Alphonse Areola should replace Lucas Fabianski as the Frenchman is the cup goalie.
Michail Antonio is expected to start upfront. Former Sassuolo man Gianluca Scamacca is possibly contemplating a Serie A comeback this summer, will have to sit this one out due to a recent knee surgery.
Fiorentina (4-2-3-1): Terracciano; Dodo, Martinez Quarta, Milenkovic, Biraghi; Amrabat, Mandragora; Gonzalez, Bonaventura, Ikone; Cabral.
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Areola; Kehrer, Aguerd, Zouma, Cresswell; Soucek, Rice; Bowen, Paqueta, Benrahma; Antonio
Trambak Bhattacherjee | GIFN