Atalanta chief Umberto Marino has just made a really bold Europa League claim about West Ham United.
The Hammers were drawn against Sevilla in the Europa League last-16 on Friday whilst Atalanta were handed a tie against German side Bayer Leverkusen.
The Europa League has been a real source of excitement for the West Ham fans, players and of course David Moyes, so far this season.
The East London outfit topped Group H with our only defeat coming on match-day six at the London Stadium against Dinamo Zagreb after Moyes fielded a team made up mostly of youth players.
On our day, obviously we can beat any team but if we’re being honest as fans, Sevilla was probably the hardest draw we could have been given on Friday in Nyon. The Spanish side are currently sitting in second spot in La Liga just six points adrift of league leaders Real Madrid.
Sevilla are a side everyone wanted to avoid.
It seems as though the Hammers are feared around Europe as well though…
Europa League West Ham claim made by Atalanta chief
The Hammers travel to The Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium next Thursday for the first-leg before we play host to them the following week at the London Stadium in the second-leg of the competition.
The West Ham players will have to be 100 per cent on their games of we are to have any chance of progressing through to the quarter-finals of the competition.
It is worth remembering that we’re a very good team with real strengths of our own as well, however. If we play with the intensity and pace that we’re used to in the Premier League, Sevilla may well find it hard to live with us.
And it seems as though some around Europe believe that we’re one of the very strongest sides in the competition.
Atalanta General manager Umberto Marino told Football Italia how West Ham are a team that should be feared:
“Along with West Ham, they (Bayer Leverkusen) are the strongest team. It’s nice to face strong teams, it’s an incentive, it will be a spectacle.”
Bold claim indeed from Marino.
No team left in the UEFA Europa League will relish facing the Hammers, that’s for sure.
There are so many teams with far greater European pedigree left in the competition though, including the likes of Sevilla, Porto, Lyon, RB Leipzig and of course, Atalanta themselves.
The fact that West Ham have reached the knockout stages of the Europa League is commendable. The challenge for us now will be to reach another level entirely when we face Sevilla.
The players and Moyes will undoubtedly have the belief. We have already beaten the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United this season after all.
It will all come down to how many Hammers players turn up and put in their very best performances. Anything less than 8/10 displays will not be enough if we are to advance against Sevilla.
And if we manage to knock the Spaniards out, perhaps a Europa League quarter-final tie against Umberto Marino’s Atalanta will await us.