West Ham United competes in a European group stage for the first time in its 126-year history as David Moyes’s side travels to Dinamo Zagreb for the beginning of its Europa League campaign.
The club faces a team well-versed in Europa League matters straight off the bat, but the Hammers hope to nail a victorious debut in Group H when they visit Maksimir Stadium.
How to Watch
Date: Thursday, Sept. 16
Time: 12:45 p.m. ET
Venue: Maksimir Stadium, Zagreb, Croatia
TV: TUDNxtra 4
Live Stream: You can stream the match on fuboTV: Start with a 7-day free trial!
A sixth-place Premier League finish last season was enough for West Ham to secure a group-stage berth in Europe’s second-tier contest, a continental debut many will think is overdue.
By contrast, Dinamo has featured as part of the group stage of a European competition in 13 of the last 14 seasons, advancing as far as the Europa League quarterfinals last season.
The Croats are not to be underestimated, either, considering they made their exit against eventual champions Villarreal and have been crowned domestic champions four years running.
West Ham will be no easy proposition, however, and is unbeaten in four league outings this season, with Moyes tasked with few issues following the recent international break:
Michail Antonio was sent off for the east Londoners during Saturday’s 0-0 bore draw at Southampton, meaning Moyes could be motivated to hand his strikes some minutes in Zagreb.
Among the alternatives sits Nikola Vlašić, a summer signing from CSKA Moscow who made some impressive movements in his debut off the bench against the Saints:
Vlašić has special interest in damaging Dinamo’s hopes of advancing given he once played for bitter rivals Hajduk Split, making a bittersweet return to his native Croatia on Thursday.
Damir Krznar took over as Dinamo manager in March, replacing Zoran Mamić after the latter was sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud and embezzling money from the club.
The club has made a fine start domestically in Krznar’s first full term at the helm and currently sit atop the Croatian league, where a defense-first approach has yielded good returns thus far.
Midfielder Lovro Majer still leads the team in goals this season with five despite leaving to join French outfit Rennes at the end of August, though Dinamo will hope to change that in the near future.
Bruno Petković's sole goal so far this season came in a Champions League qualifier against Legia Warsaw, but the striker will look to test a West Ham back line that could contain some new faces in midweek.
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