Europa League rivals Atalanta were ‘hugely relieved’ not to be drawn against West Ham in the quarter-finals of the competition.
That’s according to a report from Italy after Thursday’s draw for the last eight which kept the Serie A side separated from West Ham and Barcelona.
The Hammers were drawn to face Lyon while Barca will play Eintracht Frankfurt.
West Ham were in the hat for the quarter-finals after an unforgettable night at the London Stadium which saw them beat Sevilla 2-0 to advance 2-1 on aggregate. Atalanta progressed with a 4-2 aggregate win over Bayer Leverkusen.
The Hammers played Atalanta in a pre-season game at the London Stadium and won 2-0.
West Ham have gone on to enjoy another brilliant campaign since then, challenging for the European places and now making the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
Atalanta have been one of the best sides in Italy over the last few years. They finished third in Serie A for the last three seasons in a row to become Champions League regulars.
Their chances of making the Italian top four this season look highly unlikely as they sit in sixth and trail Juventus by eight points.
Like West Ham, though, Atalanta have been going great guns in Europe.
And they were drawn to face German side RB Leipzig with the winners facing either Braga or Rangers in the semi-finals.
Should West Ham make it past Lyon they will play the winners of Barca vs Frankfurt for a place in the final in Seville.
West Ham have won plenty of admirers with their performances in the Premier League and Europe.
And according to Football Italia, Europa League rivals Atalanta were ‘hugely relieved’ not to be drawn against West Ham.
Bosses at the Italian club and manager Gian Piero Gasperini apparently ‘breathed a sigh of relief’ after avoiding West Ham and Barcelona in the draw.
“Although RB Leipzig are one of the main candidates to win the Europa League, Atalanta will only meet Barcelona or West Ham in the final,” Football Italia reports.
“RB Leipzig were among the most challenging opponents in the pot with Barcelona and West Ham, but Atalanta will only meet the La Liga giants or the Hammers in the final.”
According to Hammers boss David Moyes, West Ham came close to weakening Atalanta in January.
But on deadline day the Italian club went radio silent and the Colombian remained in Italy.