A dream path to the Europa Conference League final has opened up for West Ham as they avoid the four big hitters but get a semi-final blow.
West Ham now know who they will and could face in the quarters, semis and final of the Conference League after the double UEFA draw on Friday.
The Hammers enjoyed a favourable draw to play the lowest ranked remaining side AEK Larnaca in the last 16.
Dream path to Europa Conference League final opens up as West Ham avoid the four big hitters but get semi-final blow
West Ham duly blew them away 6-0 on aggregate to secure their place in the hat for the quarter-finals.
And the east Londoners have had another hugely favourable draw as sporting director Mark Noble watched on at UEFA’s Swiss headquarters on Friday afternoon.
A dream path to Europa Conference League final has opened up as West Ham avoid the four big hitters but get a semi-final blow.
West Ham will face Belgian side Gent in the quarter-finals over two legs on April 13th and 20th.
Crucially West Ham will play the second leg at home on Thursday April 20th – which is considered a major advantage in knockout competitions.
Gent will be no pushovers but West Ham will once again fancy their chances of progressing to a second European semi-final in as many years.
If they get there, the Hammers will face the winners of the quarter-final between AZ Alkmaar and Anderlecht – who West Ham beat twice in the group stages – for a place in the final in Prague.
It means West Ham have avoided all four of the remaining big hitters Fiorentina, Nice, Lech Poznan and Basel.
But there was one potential blow. The draw for the semi-finals will see West Ham play at home first, meaning they face the disadvantage of the second leg being away from home – as it was against Frankfurt and Lyon last season.
Should they make the final, West Ham would be designated as the away team after a further draw to decide that aspect.
When are the quarter-finals?
The first legs of the quarter-finals will be played Thursday April 13.
The second legs will be played Thursday April 20.
When are the semi-finals?
The first legs of the semi-finals will be held on May 11, and the second legs on May 18.
When is the final?
The final takes place on June 7 at the Fortuna Arena in Prague, Czech Republic.