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Sevilla scouting report: Assessing West Ham’s Europa League last-16 opponents

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Sevilla are the most successful team in the tournament’s history as five-time winners of the UEFA Cup or Europa League. They are second in LaLiga and looked set to push Real Madrid for the Spanish title until a 0-0 draw at lowly Alaves on Friday set them back.

Julen Lopetegui’s side have lost just twice in LaLiga all season and have the best defensive record in the division, conceding just 18 goals in 27 games.

They will be a tough nut to crack for a West Ham forward line that will be missing the pace of Jarrod Bowen.

At the heart of the Sevilla defence is the formidable pairing of Jules Kounde and Diego Carlos. Kounde is Chelsea’s top target at centre-back, while the no-nonsense Carlos was a target for Newcastle in January before Sevilla made it clear he was not for sale.

That pairing is protected by former Manchester City man Fernando, the 34-year-old Brazilian still a master at breaking up and disrupting opposing attacks.

From their solid base, Sevilla play a patient, possession-based game. Ahead of Fernando are the more creative pair of Jordan and former Barcelona man Ivan Rakitic.

Even at 33, Rakitic, who plays as the most advanced of the three, is the heartbeat of the team, the man West Ham will need to stop over two legs and possibly extra-time of what could be a close tie. Moyes will hope he can call on Declan Rice to marshal their main man.

Sevilla’s game is far from the free-flowing football Rakitic would have been used to at Camp Nou but they still dominate the ball and look to probe opposing defences over long spells of possession, something which may well suit West Ham.

Moyes acknowledged after their impressive performance in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Liverpool that his team have struggled against sides who let West Ham have the ball and leave no space on the counter. Sevilla certainly won’t do that, especially at home backed by a ferocious crowd at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Youssef En-Nesyri, a striker West Ham have targeted in the past, is likely to lead the line for Sevilla

/ Getty Images

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