David Moyes and Declan Rice have reacted to their highly anticipated meeting with Barcelona in the Europa League following the Catalan club’s exit from the competition.
West Ham put three past Olympique Lyonnais in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie to win 4-1 on aggregate. The Hammers will now take on German Bundesliga club, Eintracht Frankfurt, who, like them, win away in their second leg quarter-final tie to the mighty Barcelona.
When the draws were made, the popular prediction was a Barcelona-West Ham semi-final. After the events of Thursday night, the highly anticipated matchup will not be happening.
Fans, while excited about how a smaller club like Frankfurt could knock out a big one like Barcelona from Europe, are disappointed that they will not get to witness the most improved side in Europe over the past two seasons take on one of the biggest clubs in the world.
West Ham manager David Moyes and vice-captain Declan Rice spoke after their away win at Lyon about their first semi-final in Europe in decades.
Speaking at his post-match press conference, Moyes said that his team was ready for whoever. “I think the players will all be looking forward to playing whoever. I think we’ll give whoever a game, and it’s Frankfurt as we know now,” the Scotsman said.
“That will not be easy. I actually think these parts of the draw have not gone in our favour, like we’re away from home tonight in the second leg and we’ve got that in the next round.
“So I don’t particularly think the draws have been that favourable to us as far as getting the away tie at your own place [in the second leg].
“By the way, we’ll have a great night at the London Stadium again when they come because it’s great for West Ham, seeing the level of the football, the teams.
“I just feel it’s been a monumental period for us to get to the semi-final of a European competition and I hope we can keep going and I hope we’re talking about a final soon.”
Rice buttressed his manager’s comments also, while praising their semi-final opponent’s quality. “For them [Frankfurt] to beat Barca they’re a top side,” the 23-year-old midfielder said.
“Whether it was a poor night from Barca, they still had to score three against them. We saw them against Betis and they looked a real strong side.
“We’ll be ready for whatever, two games again, we know what we want and that’s to reach the final and we’ll do anything we can to get there.”
Rice, who scored on the night, went on to describe the feeling and the atmosphere inside the Groupama stadium in Lyon.
“Special, very very special,” Rice said. “We knew it was a tough place to come and they had top individual quality. We knew with our attacking players we could score goals against their defence tonight.
“To get a two goal lead and then Jarrod come out early and put that away in the second half, it’s a special feeling. For all the fans, it’s a great night.”
His manager Moyes echoed his sentiments, saying: “I’m immensely proud of the players. The performance, and probably more so the performance in the second half of the first leg when we were down to 10 men which looks like a really poor decision, the players stuck at it, got a goal in front and then conceded. A lot of people didn’t think we’d make it tonight.
“I think the togetherness helps, if you have a good team spirit then all managers would like to get it but it comes from winning and good results. We have a really good group of lads, we’ve been really lucky, they’ve been great since I’ve been here.
“Over the two-year journey we were talking about avoiding relegation and now getting to a semi-final of a European tournament. It’s fabulous and we’re looking forward to it. It has been, it’s been huge what we’ve done in two years.
“We’ve not won any trophies yet, we’re trying to compete and qualify for European football again if we can, but if we get to these latter stages beating Sevilla, Lyon and teams in the group stages, big clubs with big European football history, we go again, you don’t win anything tonight but it was a big moment for us.”