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West Ham United v Fiorentina: Talking points for final



West Ham United v Fiorentina:  points for final

West Ham face Italian side Fiorentina in the final of the Europa Conference League, looking to end a trophy drought stretching back to 1980.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the talking points ahead of the Hammers’ big night in Prague.

Declan’s destiny?

It is no secret that Declan Rice will leave West Ham this summer, but he is hell bent on signing off in style.

The England midfielder is destined for bigger things with Arsenal, Manchester United and Bayern Munich the frontrunners for his signature.

But first, Rice is desperate to emulate Bobby Moore and Billy Bonds by becoming only the third West Ham captain to lift a trophy – and the first in 43 years – and in doing so write his name into Hammers folklore.

Moyes’ future?

Similarly to his captain, David Moyes could become only the third West Ham manager to guide them to silverware, following in the fabled footsteps of Ron Greenwood and John Lyall.

There is a growing narrative that were he to achieve it the Scot, who turned 60 this year, could be forgiven for deciding to leave the club on a high, especially given their struggles in the Premier League this season which at times, he admitted, left him close to the sack.

Keeper quandary
Moyes is set to start with cup goalkeeper Alphonse Areola despite Lukasz Fabianski being the club’s number one. But if the match goes to penalties Moyes will have a big decision to make.

Fabianski has an excellent spot-kick record – he has saved 11 in the Premier League alone. Areola, by contrast, dived the wrong way for eight consecutive penalties when West Ham lost an FA Cup shoot-out to Blackburn in November.

If the final goes the distance Fabianski could be summoned from the bench and have a big part to play in this competition after all.

Czech mates
Full-back Vladimir Coufal and midfielder Tomas Soucek have had their sights set on reaching the final ever since the venue was confirmed; the Fortuna Arena is the home of their former club, Slavia Prague.

Coufal has even promised to treat his team-mates to a famous Czech beer or two if they go on and lift the trophy.

Fiorentina form
West Ham remain the bookmakers’ favourites to win the tournament, but only just following Fiorentina’s storming end to the domestic season.

Vincenzo Italiano’s side have won eight, drawn four and lost just two matches since March, securing an eighth-placed finish in Serie A.

Their attacking style should suit Moyes’ counter-attacking tactics, but while West Ham have enjoyed a very agreeable draw on their journey to Prague, this promises to be tough.

Mark Noble brilliantly interviewed by boozing West Ham fan while out for run in Prague
WARNING, FOUL LANGUAGE: West Ham playing legend turned sporting director happily chatted with a boozing Hammers supporter on the eve of the Europa League final against Fiorentina in Prague

Mark Noble and Aaron Cresswell as the West Ham party boarded their plane to Prague (Image: Andrew Fosker/REX/Shutterstock)
Mark Noble was accosted by a boozing West Ham fan while out for a run in Prague ahead of the Europa Conference League final.

The Hammers are set for one of the biggest games in their entire history as they take on Italian side Fiorentina on Wednesday night. Victory for the Hammers would more than make up for a sub-standard Premier League campaign, and clinch a place in the UEFA’s second club competition, the Europa League, next season.

With the stadium in Prague having a paltry capacity of just 20,000, tickets are few and far between, but that hasn’t stopped tens of thousands of fans from travelling over to sample the atmosphere and enjoy some legendary Czech beer.

They include Matt Groombridge who, while enjoying a beer on the eve of the game, spotted Hammers legend Noble, now the club’s sporting director, who was out jogging.

Not content with shouting ‘hello’, Groombridge decided to join Noble on his run while holding a can of beer.

How do you doing Mark, alright, mate?,” asks a slightly-panting Groombridge. Noble replies: “F****** sweet.” The former midfielder then asks about his choice of beer, with Groombridge confirming it is a “pilsner”.

What’s your prediction for Europa Conference League final? Tell us in the comments section below

“Are we going to win tomorrow?,” he then asks. Noble replies: “I hope so.” The pair then wish each other well before going their separate ways.

The clip went down a storm with Hammers fans, with one tweeting: “Absolutely class mate.” Another said: “You legend.”

A third laughed: “Quality hahahahhaha.” Meanwhile, a fourth joked: “Good to see you’ve nailed this jogging lark Matt… who’s that slacker with you?”

The Hammers were disappointingly given just 5,000 tickets for the game, with demand far outstripping supply. Around 25,000 ticketless fans are expected in Prague for what they hope will be the club’s first major silverware in decades.

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Moyes, Soucek & Bowen: pre match press conference
By Staff Writer Tuesday, 6th June 2023
David Moyes, Tomas Soucek and Jarrod Bowen have been addressing the media on the eve of West Ham United’s biggest game since the 2006 FA Cup Final.

The Hammers face Fiorentina in the Conference League Final in Prague on Wednesday evening and the duo were placed on media duties alongside manager Moyes.

You may listen to the thoughts of all three by clikcing on the respective ‘play’ buttons in the videos below

Meanwhile, the West Ham network have spoken to a number of former players for their thoughts ahead of Wednesday’s showpiece final – you may listen to those below, plus watch West Ham’s final full training session ahead of the game.

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