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UEFA Europa Conference League 2022/2023: Fiorentina vs West Ham - tactical analysis tactics

UEFA Europa Conference League Final: How West Ham’s compact defence and attacking realism helped defeat Fiorentina – tactical analysis

West Ham United have just lifted the UEFA Europa Conference League at the Eden Arena in Prague after beating Fiorentina 2-1 in the final game of the tournament, making it the first-ever UEFA Europa Conference League title for the Hammers and their third European trophy overall. On the other hand, Fiorentina failed to finish their excellent European journey with glory despite finishing in the eighth position in Serie A, which cannot be considered as a failure since the team was facing some big teams like Napoli, Milan, Lazio, Inter, Roma, and Juventus.

Therefore, we can say that this was a successful season for Fiorentina despite failing to qualify for a European competition and even reaching this final was an achievement in itself. This does not mean that the team should be happy losing the final, yet they can be proud of what they achieved in this competition and build on this journey to perform even better next time and use this experience to not repeat the same errors.

This tactical analysis article will explore how David Moyes’ tactics helped West Ham beat Fiorentina and to lift the title after being 1-1 until the 90th minute. The analysis will also try to identify what prevented Fiorentina from winning and what was lacking in their performance.


Fiorentina started the game using their 4-3-3 formation with Pietro Terracciano as a goalkeeper, Dodô, Nikola Milenković, Luca Ranieri and Cristiano Biraghi in defence, Sofyan Amrabat as a defensive midfielder, Giacomo Bonaventura and Rolando Mandragora as central midfielders, Nicolás González and Christian Kouamé as wingers while Luka Jovićwas the team’s striker.

On the other hand, West Ham relied on the 4-2-3-1 formation with Alphonse Areola in goal, Vladimír Coufal, Kurt Zouma, Nayef Aguerd and Emerson Palmieri in defence, Tomáš Souček and Declan Rice as central midfielders, Jarrod Bowen and Saïd Benrahma as wingers while Lucas Paquetá played as an advanced playmaker behind the striker Michail Antonio.

UEFA Europa Conference League 2022/2023: Fiorentina vs West Ham - tactical analysis tactics

Fiorentina’s failure: the positives and the negatives

While West Ham shot seven times on goal and scored twice, it should be noted that Fiorentina shot 13 times on goal and scored only once, and this in itself shows that Fiorentina didn’t have the finishing quality needed to be decisive against a tough defence like West Ham’s. In fact, Fiorentina missed numerous chances and lacked the experience to deal with such opportunities in the best possible way. Fiorentina’s key players in attacking transition were Bonaventura, Biraghi, who joined the attack so often, and both wingers. These players helped the team exceed West Ham’s first defensive line and reach the final third in a more recurrent way but then the team didn’t really have some clear ideas of how to overcome West Ham’s defensive line.

UEFA Europa Conference League 2022/2023: Fiorentina vs West Ham - tactical analysis tactics

This lack of attacking ideas inside the box pushed the players to go for desperate solutions like Biraghi did here when he attempted to shoot from distance because he didn’t find support. In reality, support from Jović cannot happen easily in this match since he was usually marked tightly by Zouma and Aguerd. Shooting from distance represented a tangible solution for the players at times, especially when Bonventura and the two wingers were marked too.

In this example, Kouamé’s wrong position prevented Biraghi from having a passing option on the left wing too, knowing that González was holding that same post.

UEFA Europa Conference League 2022/2023: Fiorentina vs West Ham - tactical analysis tactics

Apart from some other shooting attempts and set-pieces that were not exploited as needed, Fiorentina failed to threaten West Ham a lot in the first half and looked unable to score against the Hammers’ very organised defence. And during the first part of the second half, Fiorentina offered West Ham the chance to gain the advantage and score through a penalty that was awarded due to Biraghi’s handball when trying to protect the ball and defend against Bowen’s penetration attempt.

This whole situation took place mainly due to Fiorentina’s lack of concentration during the execution of a throw-in since they left Bowen unmarked when the throw-in was played and then Biraghi tried to catch Bowen by all means necessary to prevent him from reaching the goal. Such mistakes could have been avoided if Bowen’s marker followed him before the execution of the throw-in.

UEFA Europa Conference League 2022/2023: Fiorentina vs West Ham - tactical analysis tactics

Fiorentina were able to rally themselves together after conceding the goal and kept pushing for an equaliser despite not being able to reach West Ham’s goal with the needed frequency. Yet, Amrabat was key in initiating the team’s attacks from the back using very accurate crosses and through passes towards both wings.

During the goal action, Amrabat was the source of the whole action when he crossed the ball directly towards González who won the aerial duel with his marker to provide a crucial assist to Bonaventura. The latter used all of his finishing experience to shoot accurately towards the far post while being surrounded by two West Ham players in a very tight area, which was not at all an easy task to accomplish with success. Yet, Bonaventura proved once again that he can be considered as a secret weapon in attack and that he still has got what it takes to be always crucial in finishing, especially on big occasions.

UEFA Europa Conference League 2022/2023: Fiorentina vs West Ham - tactical analysis tactics

Fiorentina, however, were unable to conserve this draw at least until extra time or penalties and conceded a goal in the 90th minute which ended their dream and turned it into a nightmare. At the same time, they can only blame themselves for conceding this goal mainly because the whole action took place when Fiorentina decided to opt for an extremely high defensive block during that time in the match, and as soon as they lost the ball, a single through pass and a movement from Bowen were sufficient to put the latter in a one vs one situation with Terracciano.

This inability to deal with key moments in the best possible way is the responsibility of Vincenzo Italiano as well since such decisions prevented Fiorentina from playing their chance until the end and helped West Ham win the trophy in a less tiring way.

UEFA Europa Conference League 2022/2023: Fiorentina vs West Ham - tactical analysis tactics

West Ham’s attacking realism and exploitation of Fiorentina’s errors

West Ham’s performance in this match represents the perfect example of how to exploit the opponent’s mistakes and be always ready to use their errors against them in an accurate and decisive way.

First of all, it should be said that West Ham’s defensive performance was key in this match since it helped the whole team be less stressed about conceding goals and helped the attacking players believe more in their chances. The team was able to stop players like González, Jović, Kouamé and Bonaventura’s threats throughout the match except for one action from Bonaventura. And that was their only big defensive mistake during the match since they could have closed down Bonaventura in a more aggressive way to prevent him from having the time to control and shoot the ball.

UEFA Europa Conference League 2022/2023: Fiorentina vs West Ham - tactical analysis tactics


The above graphic highlights how West Ham did not prefer to defend high and opted rather for a relatively low defensive line while trying to stop all wing-based attacks since Fiorentina relied a lot on attacking from the wings.

All in all, West Ham’s defending mission can be considered an overall success in this match. From an attacking perspective, the team exploited Fiorentina’s first handball error and Benrahma was able to convert the penalty into a goal to give the advantage to him team. Later on, West Ham could have scored their second goal way before the 90th minute mainly thanks to Paquetá’s dangerous penetrations and key passing. This occasion that happened at the 69th minute highlights the Brazilian’s ability to break Fiorentina’s defensive line with an accurate key pass towards Anthony who dealt well with the ball before shooting on goal. Nevertheless, the only error was being offside when the pass was being launched.

UEFA Europa Conference League 2022/2023: Fiorentina vs West Ham - tactical analysis tactics

Moreover, West Ham tried to exploit the last 20 minutes of the game and give everything they had, knowing that Fiorentina were getting tired. Therefore, they applied a high pressing approach on Fiorentina’s defence, preventing their build-up from the back and obliging them to go for crosses. This approach helped West Ham to not only avoid Fiorentina’s dangers and attacks but also have more possession and threaten Fiorentina.

UEFA Europa Conference League 2022/2023: Fiorentina vs West Ham - tactical analysis tactics

Such high pressing combined with Italiano’s decision to keep his team’s defensive line very high helped West Ham get their goalscoring opportunity when Bowen finished with success and he gets the credit for his excellent finishing despite being pressured, while Paquetá deserves the credit as well for the excellent assist.

UEFA Europa Conference League 2022/2023: Fiorentina vs West Ham - tactical analysis tactics


West Ham deserved to win the UEFA Europa Conference League trophy as they performed in a way that helped them exploit Fiorentina’s errors and be decisive in attack while keeping their defensive balance at the back. This was a huge achievement for a team like West Ham and it will only help them develop even more in the coming seasons.

On the other hand, Fiorentina should build on their mistakes and learn from them, as they should be proud of reaching this final despite it not being one of their seasonal objectives.