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Fiorentina v West Ham – Europa Conference League Final: Preview

It says much about modern football that despite guiding West Ham to a European final, David Moyes is still high on many bookmakers’ lists to be the next Premier League manager to lose his job.

Moyes will walk out with the Hammers for their first final since 2006 when his players prepare to face Italian club Fiorentina in Prague in the Europa Conference League final on Wednesday night.

That last showpiece occasion for the club was the FA Cup final of 17 years ago, which they lost on penalties to Liverpool.

Now, Moyes has West Ham in touching distance of silverware again, but as they finished only six points above the relegation zone face in the Premier League this season, the Scotsman appears insecure in his position.

In fact, stories suggesting Moyes is about to be sacked have seemed to come along as regularly as the rail strikes over the last few months, but don’t seem to cause as much disruption.

West Ham have won four of their last six matches, including their two semi-final leg victories in the Europa Conference League against Dutch club AZ Alkmaar.

Their final opponents Fiorentina ended their Serie A campaign in eighth place and the Italians head into Wednesday’s game in equally impressive form with four wins from six games and they were only narrowly beaten by Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia final.

Moyes will look to the scoring prowess of Michail Antonio – 14 goals in all competitions this season – to settle things in their favour, aided by the speed and trickery of Jarrod Bowen, who has scored 12.

Behind them, they will hope the driving energy is provided by Declan Rice is what many expect to be the England midfielder’s final game for the club before he joins either Manchester United or Arsenal.

The biggest danger to Moyes and his men could well come from Arthur Cabral, the Brazilian striker they actually tried to sign 18 months ago for £12m, who now seems likely to move to AC Milan for £70m.

Cabral has scored 16 goals this season – including eight in 15 appearances in Europe, with his most recent strikes coming against Sassuolo in Serie A and against Basel in the Europa Conference League semi-final.

It’s been a long road to Prague for both clubs. You have to earn your corn in this tournament.

Both teams kicked off their first Europa Conference League campaign in the qualifying play-offs, though West Ham have played two games fewer to reach the final as they won their group to bypass the knockout play-offs, whereas Fiorentina were runners-up in their section.

The Italian side’s record in their 16 matches is W11 D2 L3, including a run of nine straight wins from their third game through to the quarter-final first leg, while the Hammers arrive in Prague unbeaten, having won 13 of their 14 matches and drawn the other.

Moyes says: “The most important thing is being prepared and doing the things that got you to this place in the first place.

“It’s a big achievement to get through to a European final. It’s not easy to get all the way through and we’ve been competitive.

“It’s a great achievement for all the players and the next part is to see if we can go on and win it.”

Europa Conference League final:

Fiorentina v West Ham United

Wednesday, 7 June Kick-off: 20:00 BST

Venue: Fortuna Arena, Prague

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