Tedesco and Moyes are without a final
“Eintracht” – “West Ham” – 1:0
Perhaps the most dramatic story. “West Ham” made a serious bet on winning the Europa League for a ticket to the Champions League. And they looked one of the favourites of the tournament. But by some misunderstanding, they managed to lose at home in the first leg. Even after that, according to their playing potential, it seemed that David Moyes’s boys had every chance of reaching the final.
In the return game, a key episode occurred as early as the 19th minute when Cresswell was sent off for a last-minute foul. Outnumbered, West Ham conceded a goal from Borre but were unable to regain their composure. Moyes, who had been worrying all along, couldn’t find much comfort until the referee sent him off on 79 minutes for being too emotional – kicking the ball in anger. It was the Hammers’ fourth loss in a row – clearly the boys were exhausted towards the end of the season. “Eintracht, who had also given up everything in the German championship for the Europa League, kept the winning score and advanced to the final.
As a result, the Germans were 10-6 in shots on goal and 3-3 in shots saved. Control of the ball, of course, was on the side of Eintracht, who had possession 64 percent of the time with 86 percent accuracy of assists versus West Ham’s 73. It is worth recalling that on their way to the final, Eintracht knocked out Betis and Barcelona before West Ham in the playoffs. An impressive journey for the 11th team in the Bundesliga.
“Rangers” – “Leipzig” 3-1
Leipzig, far more successful in the German league, couldn’t confirm their status. Probably, as well as West Ham, they lost energy early, not calculating their strength for the final push of the season. Hence the three defeats in the last four matches, including this one. The first semifinal, though, went to Domenico Tedesco’s team, 1-0. Everything looked like we were going to see a mono-national final. But just as there was no purely English final in the UEFA Champions League, there was no purely German final in the Europa League.
The Rangers strategized perfectly for the return home semifinal, showing themselves to be fresher and more collected. And this after the match against Celtic in the Scottish Championship. That game ended in a draw, by the way, with the score 1-1. The key period was played in the middle of the first half, when Rangers scored twice against Gulachi. Tavernier and Kamara scored.
In other statistical terms, the teams were evenly matched in the first half. Even in terms of poor passing accuracy of 71%. Rangers’ realization and collected defense decided the outcome. Of course, after the break, Leipzig put everything in its place and managed to equalize thanks to Nkunk. And on 80 minutes, the Scots scored the third goal thanks to the efforts of Lundstrem.
The Bulls took control of the ball almost 63% of the time, hitting 11 shots on goal against eight for the Rangers (six of them were taken before the break). Only two shots were taken by Leipzig and four by Rangers. The Bulls’ increased pass accuracy to 80 percent says nothing – they were forced to roll the ball in front of closed doors.
It is worth noting that Rangers knocked out Borussia Dortmund, Crvena Zvezda and Braga on their way to the Europa League final in the year of their 150th anniversary in the playoffs. In the last two games, as well as against Leipzig, the Scots lost on the road, but made up for it at home.
“Roma” – “Leicester” – 1:0
Jose Mourinho continues to move toward his next trophy. Even if it’s only Conference League. To achieve success here, they had to tinker with Leicester who were held to a 1-1 draw by the Romans. In the home game, Roma managed to score a quick goal in the 11th minute through Abraham.
From there on, the Romans were in charge but both teams had chances to score. It was surprising that Leicester, with their English pace, failed to do so. Although, in recent matches, the Foxes have not been very good in general. Apparently, they were tired at the end of the season. Roma, on the other hand, were patient.
Leicester finished the game with 55 percent ball possession, 85 percent accuracy of assists versus Roma, which halved their passing and generally focused only on the counterattack. But it took 11 shots on goal compared to ten for the Foxes, who hit the line twice, while the Romans did so four times.
In the playoffs, Roma knocked out Vitesse and Bude Glimt before Leicester. Interestingly, in the entire Conference League campaign this season, the Romans have only lost in two games. And both times they were against Bude-Glimt. First in the group, and then in the quarterfinals, where it ended with Roma’s final revenge with a score of 4-0.
“Marseille” – “Feyenoord” – 0:0
Another victim of burnout towards the end of the season is Marseille. Under Jorge Sampaoli, the Provençal side seemed to have found their game and had a great run, during which they secured second place in Ligue 1 and reached the semifinals of the Conference League. But that’s where they got knocked out. In the first match and the shootout it was still the usual “Marseille”, albeit losing 2:3.
But then in Ligue 1 Marseille was destroyed at home by Lyon – 0:3. And now here is the inability to score at home for the second game in a row. And to Feyenoord, which, although in good shape, but still with the wind in its gates. One sign of Provençal’s exhaustion is Dimitri Payet’s injury in the first half. He has pulled more than one match on his shoulders and claims to be Ligue 1’s best player this season. But even he didn’t hold out.
And without Payet, Marseille wasn’t as chiseled. It attacked more, possessed the ball 59 percent of the time with a pass accuracy of 83 percent compared to 74 for Feyenoord. “Marseille” took 11 shots on goal, four came within the box, while the guests had eight attempts with two within the box. But Marseille couldn’t even create a final assault and didn’t look like a team capable of crushing the Dutch.
Feyenoord knocked out Slavia Prague and Partizan before Marseille in the Conference League playoffs. But the whole way of this team to the finals is surprising. “Feyenoord played 18 games in the tournament this season. Conference League began for him on July 22. And during these 18 games the Dutch have suffered only one defeat – in the away group they lost to Elfsborg (1:3). A most deserved and “hard-earned” exit to the finals.