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UECL FINAL: ONE LONG WAIT ENDS TONIGHT

Fiorentina and West Ham United last won a major UEFA competition in the 1960s, one long wait will end as they meet in the UEFA Europa Conference League (UECL) final in Prague. The similarities don’t end there as both finished outside of the European qualification positions in their domestic leagues, so winning here is their only way back into Europe next season.

The Italian side have already made history by becoming the first team to reach the final of all four major UEFA competitions and they’ll now attempt to improve their strike rate in UEFA finals after lifting a European trophy just once in four prior attempts (W1, L3), an emphatic victory over Rangers in 1961. The Violets have seemingly put their Coppa Italia disappointment against Inter Milan in late May behind them, as they come into this showpiece event on the back of two subsequent Serie A wins to wrap up their domestic season.

They had to battle past Basel to get this far, winning their semi-final courtesy of a late extra-time winner after losing the first leg at home. They also lost the home leg of their quarter-final against Lech Poznań but as they’ve won their last six UECL games on foreign soil, they should be confident of another positive in unfamiliar surroundings.

The European stage has been the clear highlight of West Ham’s season after they finished 14th in the Premier League, winning just two of their final seven league fixtures (L5). They’ve made easier work of their progress to the final than their opponents (W13, D1) but have historically struggled against Italian opponents, so they’ll have to break new ground to lift a second-ever European title.

Older Hammers fans will remember a brace of 1-0 H2H defeats in the 1975 Anglo-Italian Cup, the only occasions these two sides have ever met and it’s been a similar story since as they lost twice to Palermo in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup, their only other experience against an Italian outfit.

Players to watch: With seven goals, Fiorentina’s Arthur Cabral is this tournament’s joint leading scorer this term, the last three of which came before half-time. Another would leave West Ham hoping for a response from Michail Antonio, who’s netted six UECL goals this season, all after the 35th minute.

Written by Franklin Edenojie

Franklin Edenojie also known as The BETMAKER (Big Boom) is a renowned Pundit, Sports Analyst, Manchester United 💕fan and well known Punter.

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