West Ham get Freiburg in the Round of 16

The Round of 16 draw for the Europa League has given West Ham familiar opponents in the form of Bundesliga side SC Freiburg. Bizarrely, the Hammers met the German side in the group stages of this very competition earlier this season, and won on both occasions. Unlike the UCL though, the laws for the EL draw do not prevent two sides from the same group from meeting again in the Ro16, and so we have three matchups that are a repeat of the GS clashes between the respective teams- West Ham v Freiburg, Sporting Lisbon v Atalanta and Qarabag v Leverkusen.

Europa League Draw Round of 16 2023-24

As far as opponents go, not bad!

The familiarity of the draw might evoke a sense of boredom for both sets of fans, but for West Ham, it is also re-assuring to draw a side that they have already beaten twice this season ((2-1 away in October and 2-0 at home in December). The likes of Milan, Benfica and Roma were unseeded for the draw too, and would’ve been significantly tougher opponents for the Hammers at this stage of the campaign.

Freiburg also struggling like the Hammers domestically

Like West Ham, Freiburg’s form domestically has taken a bit of a nosedive in recent weeks. They’ve won only one of their last six in the Bundesliga and needed a stunning comeback to beat Lens in the playoffs. RCL lead 2-0 midway through the return leg in Germany, but Freiburg scored twice through Rolland Salai to force the game into extra time, and then snatched a dramatic win through Gregoritsch’s 99th minute effort.

Given the Hammers’ recent struggles in the Premier League (see form below), another European title might be their only chance of silverware this season. The EL though is a far more difficult competition than the Conference League, although with the right draw, one could possibly see the Hammers go all the way.

Nottingham Forest 2-0 West Ham
West Ham 0-6 Arsenal
Man Utd 3-0 West Ham
West Ham 1-1 Bournemouth
Sheff Utd 2-2 West Ham
West Ham 0-0 Brighton

If you look at West Ham’s last six fixtures, this is practically relegation form- the only team to have done even worse in the league in this period are Burnley, and in all fairness to the Clarets, their opponents have been tougher than West Ham’s. The Hammers were also knocked out of the FA Cup in this period by Bristol City.


The absence of Lucas Paqueta through injury has been a major factor in this lean period but the Brazilian is expected to be fit for Freiburg, and that will be a massive boost for the Hammers.

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