Fabiański: We'll give it everything against Bayer Leverkusen

Lukasz Fabianski of West Ham United during the UEFA Europa League 2023/24 quarter-final second leg press conference on April 17, 2024 in Rush Green, England. 

Following a 2-0 defeat in the first leg, Łukasz Fabiański is under no illusion as to the task West Ham United face to reach the UEFA Europa League semi-finals at Bayer Leverkusen’s expense on Thursday night, but is still confident they can get the job done. 

The challenge is a big one after Xabi Alonso’s men struck twice late on in Germany last week, as the Hammers must not only end the Bundesliga champions’ 43-game unbeaten run, but also do so comprehensively. 

“It’s a nice challenge to have, but a very demanding challenge,” Fabiański admitted. “But I think we have to believe [we can win] and there’s no other way to look at the situation. 

"In the first leg, I think there were certain moments where we were defending, and there were some moments where we were not brave enough in possession of the ball. I don’t think we used the [ball] well, and hopefully we can recognise those situations a bit better and put more pressure on the opposition on Thursday.

“They [Leverkusen] are in a very strong position when it comes to their confidence as a team, being unbeaten in the league and having already been crowned German [Bundesliga] champions. But we also know our quality, and have to believe."

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European nights have of course been a frequent affair throughout Fabiański’s career. 

Alongside his 350-odd appearances in the Premier League, the former Poland international has played in the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League.

His experience will be vital in the second leg, as it proved – with a hatful of superb saves – in the first. 

“I am getting older,” laughed Fabiański, who celebrates his 39th birthday today. “But I feel very good both physically and mentally. I believe that in general I am in very good shape and am in a good place when it comes to the team, so hopefully I have a few more special occasions in my career.

“Leverkusen are a very good side and they have proved that in recent games and during the whole season, but I would say we have to believe.

“We have already experienced some games under pressure when it comes to European competitions in the previous rounds and years, so sometimes we manage to create special and magical evenings as well, and hopefully this will be a similar situation.”

Such comeback moments have been synonymous with West Ham under David Moyes. 

There was the 3-2 win over Chelsea to keep the Hammers in the Premier League, the 3-3 draw at Tottenham Hotspur during lockdown, and that unforgettable night against Sevilla, too. 

Fabiański was part of the squad for all of those games and believes the Irons can add another to the list against Leverkusen.

“The confidence we can take from the experiences we have had as a group [is huge],” Fabiański added. “Hopefully, that experience will help us prepare mentally in a good way for the game.

“I think the gameplan needs to be smart - you can’t go too crazy from the first minute. They are a good team, a strong team, and you need to be smart [and attack] in the right moments.

“We have to believe and it is a good challenge to have. We have experienced some games like this in Europe when it comes to the pressure and you don’t have to rush. You have to first and foremost focus on controlling the tempo of the game. Then, choose the right moments to attack. 

“We don’t have to rush anything; we have to be patient, and then take our opportunities.”

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