Tomáš Souček

Souček: We know the fans will be right with us on another huge European night

Bayer Leverkusen may have won a first-ever Bundesliga title in their 120-year history on Sunday, and currently be unbeaten in 43 matches this term, but Tomáš Souček believes West Ham United can evoke the spirit of Sevilla and power through to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals at the expense of Xabi Alonso’s high-flyers on Thursday night.

The Hammers will seek to overturn a two-goal deficit back on home soil, as late goals from substitutes Jonas Hofmann and Victor Boniface earned Leverkusen a 2-0 win in the first leg of the teams' quarter-final tie at the BayArena last week.

Czech midfielder Souček admits the challenge in front of his team is clear, but is confident progression is very much achievable, explaining that something hits different under the London Stadium lights.

“We've done it before, so we have to be confident we can do it again," said Souček. “Against Sevilla, the atmosphere was the best I’ve ever heard and it was a night to remember. I scored the first goal and Andriy [Yarmolenko] scored the second. It was one of the best nights I have had here. 

We know in European football that the fans are always behind us, even if we are losing
Tomáš Souček

"We came home and knew it was going to be difficult, because they [Sevilla] were a good side and had won the Europa League three years in a row before that. It was quite tough, but together with the fans we got through it.

"We notice a difference to the fans on European nights, because in the warm-up we feel the atmosphere and that everyone is behind us. We know in European football that the fans are always behind us, even if we are losing.

“We went to the semi-finals, where we lost to [Eintracht] Frankfurt. We were so disappointed, but we bounced back and won the UEFA Europa Conference League, and then recently we had a great night against SC Freiburg. Hopefully, Thursday will be another special memory."

Souček says the eyes of many Czech football supporters will be set firmly on London Stadium for the second-leg tie with Bayer Leverkusen.

The reason? All five Czech Republic internationals still in action in the Europa League – and UEFA Champions League – play for one of the two clubs.

Tomáš Souček

Souček and Vladimír Coufal will wear the Claret and Blue of West Ham, while Matěj Kovář, Adam Hložek and Patrik Schick are all part of the Leverkusen set-up.

Speaking of his Czech international teammates, the Hammers' No28 said: “We don't have any Czech teams left, and we don’t have any players left in the Champions League or Europa League outside of West Ham and Leverkusen.

“There are a few in the Europa Conference League, but none in those two competitions, so everyone in the Czech Republic would like to watch this game.

“I think every Czech in England will support West Ham, and every Czech in Germany will support Leverkusen because of our connections in these games.

“These are special games for Czechs, so I believe everyone will be watching in the restaurants and pubs in Prague and across our country. Hopefully the fans cheering West Ham on will be the happy ones at full-time!”