Antonin Barak celebrating his goal vs Sampdoria on January 12th, 2023. Source: Matteo Papini / Image Sport
Antonin Barak celebrating his goal vs Sampdoria on January 12th, 2023. Source: Matteo Papini / Image Sport

2023 UEFA Europa Conference League final

Football Dins Davids Ozols 06.06.2023

While we await Saturday’s grand finale to the premier European club football competition, the Champions League, already tomorrow evening, our eyes will be spoiled by the UEFA Europa Conference League final. In the second year of the competition, it’s West Ham United and our official partner Fiorentina that will fight for the champions trophy or Europe’s third-tier tournament.

Fiorentina’s road to the final

Fiorentina’s journey to the final has been nothing short of remarkable. The Italian club demonstrated an attacking prowess that has set them apart from their opponents in the Europa Conference League this season. Having netted an impressive 36 goals in just 14 games en route to the final, Fiorentina possesses a formidable attacking unit capable of causing significant trouble for any opposition.

After 4 wins, a loss, and a draw in Group A, Fiorentina finished second behind İstanbul Başakşehir on goal difference. This granted them a place in the Round of 16 against Turkish side Sivasspor. After managing to find the back of the net only once in the 1st leg, it was a week later when Fiorentina unleashed their true firepower, winning the 2nd leg 4-1.

In the 1st leg of the Quarter-finals, Viola continued to spoil us with a goal parade, convincingly winning Polish side Lech Poznan 4-1. However, the 2nd leg proved to be a real challenge. Down 0-3 in front of their home crowd, Fiorentina responded with two late goals to upset Lech and slide into the Semi-finals with an aggregate score of 6-4.

The penultimate stage of the tournament against Swiss side Basel proved to be even more nerve-tickling. A late goal by Basel at the very end of the 1st leg meant that Fiorentina will go into the 2nd one already being behind. After a goal in the 35th minute, the score was leveled early in the 2nd half. It was in the 72nd minute when Fiorentina responded with a well-placed shot, sending the match into extra time. After two periods of extra time and nine minutes inside of stoppage time, it seemed the winner would be decided in a penalty shootout. Antonín Barák had a different plan. After collecting a loose ball inside the box, the Czech slotted it home from close range to send Viola into the final.

West Ham’s road to the final

The English club absolutely dominated Group B, winning all six matches and finishing ten points clear of 2nd place. They proceeded in the same convincing manner on both legs of the Round of 16, defeating Cypriot side AEK Larnaca FC 2-0 and 4-0, respectively.

In the Quarter-finals, West Ham was welcomed by Gent, who managed to hold the British side 1-1 on their home soil. The Belgian club proved to be a real challenge until the 2nd half of the 2nd leg when the pressure by West Ham was simply too much for them to endure. Three goals in a nine-minute spell helped West Ham to eliminate Gent 5-2 on aggregate and continue their Europa Conference League journey.

Dutch side AZ Alkmaar was the only remaining obstacle on the way to the final. A 2-1 victory in the first leg of the Semi-final allowed West Ham to sit back and soak up the Dutch side’s attacks. However, even with 70% possession, Alkmaar failed to put the Hammers under much pressure, finishing the game with just two shots on target. Instead, Pablo Fornals sealed West Ham’s place in the final with a stellar solo run from the center of the field and a well-placed shot outside the box in the dying minutes of the match.

What are the odds?

For Fiorentina, who finished 8th in Serie A this season, the UEFA Europa Conference League final presents a chance to break their European title drought and reclaim their former glory. West Ham United, despite finishing 14th in the English Premier League and only 6 points away from the relegation zone, hasn’t let their supporters down on the European stage. Buoyed by their progress under manager David Moyes, the club seeks to secure its first major continental success since 1965.

Both teams have showcased their prowess throughout the tournament, and with the prospect of securing their first major European title in decades, the stakes couldn’t be higher. OlyBet sportsbook predicts a close encounter, with Fiorentina as a slight favorite at the odds of 2.77, while West Ham is rated at 2.87. Fortunately, it won’t take long for us to find out the champion, as the clash between these ambitious teams will take place already tomorrow at 22:00. So buckle up and prepare for a breathtaking Wednesday night finale!

Dins Davids Ozols

Dins is a self-raised copywriter whose burning desire for punctuality and correctness of texts has combined with a lifelong passion for sports. He's on a mission to provide OlyBet.TV visitors with content on current sports events. His favorite topics include major football leagues and competitions, NBA, and UFC.