West Ham and Moyes relishing ‘special’ European clash with Eintracht Frankfurt

Van Bronckhorst urges Rangers to ‘block out the noise’ ahead of Leipzig tie

West Ham United manager David Moyes said they are relishing their Europa League semi-final tie with Eintracht Frankfurt, a fixture that gave the east London club one of their greatest moments 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."

Step closer

Meanwhile, Rangers need to "block out the noise" and give it their all when they face RB Leipzig in their semi-final, coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst said on Wednesday.

Rangers will be looking to go a step closer to winning their first European trophy since lifting the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972 when they travel to face Leipzig on Thursday.

“We have to do the right thing at the right moments,” van Bronckhorst told reporters. “We will have moments when we need to defend but we will be looking for dangerous chances to score. It is a semi-final of the Europa League so the standard is high.

“What I had as a player I also have as a coach. You have to block all the media and noise and concentrate on your preparation and your performance, this is what the players have to do. Once the whistle goes give it everything you have.”

Van Bronckhorst praised the organisation of Leipzig, and said he was wary of the Bundesliga club’s attacking threat.

“Of course playing a European semi-final is exciting but we have to overcome a tough team, we have watched Leipzig play a lot of games and are well prepared,” the Dutch coach said.

“There are still two games to be played against a tough opponent and we will do everything we can to be in the final. Leipzig are a very well organised team, they have a lot of threats.”

Goalkeeper Allan McGregor, who was part of the Rangers squad that finished runners-up in the competition in 2008, said the Scottish club’s return to the semi-final stage was an “unbelievable achievement”.

“It was disappointing last time [2008] to miss out,” McGregor told reporters. “It is special for every player to be in Europe at this stage.

“A few years ago nobody thought we would qualify for the Europa League, each year we have progressed. It is a big occasion for the club and we need to go and enjoy it.”

Van Bronckhorst said that the injured duo of Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe will be unavailable for the trip to Germany, but added that striker Fashion Sakala will travel with the squad.