West Ham United manager David Moyes said they are relishing their Europa League semi-final tie with Eintracht Frankfurt, a fixture which gave the east London club one of their greatest moment in European soccer nearly five decades ago.
Thursday will be the second time the two teams meet in the semi-finals of a European competition after West Ham prevailed in the previous two-legged tie to reach the 1976 final of the Cup Winners’ Cup.
Eintracht, who won the Europa League in 1980, stunned heavyweights Barcelona 3-2 on aggregate in their quarter-final while West Ham advanced after overpowering Olympique Lyonnais 4-1 over two legs.
“It’s really special that two teams with a history, but not necessarily a recent history, are back together,” Moyes told reporters on Wednesday. “Some of the guys from the 1976 final were here the other day.
“They’re a big name in German football. I’ve been to a few games in Frankfurt and loved their support… To beat Barcelona over two games was an incredible achievement and it shows their qualities.
“I don’t think we’ve considered (being favourites)… We’re in a good place and we have to try and challenge to get to the final. West Ham now have a great stadium and fantastic crowd. Hopefully, we can show what we’ve got.”
West Ham will be without three of their four central defenders for the tie. Moyes said Angelo Ogbonna will remain sidelined and Issa Diop picked up an ankle injury against Burnley last weekend, while Kurt Zouma is unlikely to play again this season.
Captain Mark Noble said he is hoping to finish his 18th and final season at the club with European success but ruled out making a U-turn on his retirement plans.
“This season for me, after announcing it would be my last, has been pretty special. But as I keep saying, it’s not over yet… We’ve got an incredible game tomorrow night,” Noble said.
“I’ve given my life from 11 years of age to this football club through the good times and bad times. There have been some tough times but the one mainstay for the last 18-19 years has been me…. Winning the competition would be life changing.
“Would I come back after? No. To end on that would be pretty special. I’ll happily come and watch the Champions League games with the Europa League trophy on the next chair.”