PREVIEW: Bayer Leverkusen vs West Ham United.

After defeating Union Berlin 1-0 on Saturday, Bayer Leverkusen is still unbeaten this season (W36, D5). However, they must first defeat West Ham United in this UEFA Europa League quarterfinal first leg before they can possibly win the Bundesliga this coming weekend. Although there has never been a meeting between the two teams, manager Xabi Alonso can look back on positive experiences, having only ever lost one personal head-to-head (W5, D1) and scoring in his very first game as a player against the Londoners.

Regardless of the value of that experience, Die Werkself have been successful at home in Europe this term (W4), scoring three goals or more in each of their wins. Despite their winning streak of more than a year in UEL home games (W5, D2), they should exercise caution as they defeated Qarabağ 3-2 in the previous round, needing two goals in injury time.

West Ham, the current Champions of the Europa Conference League, defeated Wolves 2-1 on Saturday despite losing star player Jarrod Bowen to injury. They are the latest team to try and break Leverkusen’s incredible run of victories without a loss. In order to get to this point (D2, L1), David Moyes’ team had to thrash Freiburg 5-0 to get back to winning ways. Now, he is looking to preserve his flawless managerial record against Leverkusen (W2)!

In order for the Hammers to move on after dropping their last three European away games against German opponents (W1), he will need to channel all of that experience and expertise. Their road performance in this competition has also been worrisome, as they have alternated between UEL away victories and losses in their last eight such games (W4, L4). Nevertheless, they will be hoping to snap that losing streak in this one.

Players to watch: Patrik Schick has scored in three of Leverkusen’s last 16 games against Qarabağ, including all four of his team’s UEL matches. With three goals in his last three UEL games for West Ham, two of which came after the 75th minute, Mohammed Kudus is another player who could pose a late threat.

Hot stat: In the first 15 minutes of UEL play this season, neither Leverkusen nor West Ham have given up a point.

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