West Ham United entertain Dinamo Zagreb at the London Stadium in Thursday’s Europa League Group H finale.
David Moyes’ men have been nothing short of stunning in Europe this season.
Except for a 2-2 draw at Genk on Matchday 4, the Hammers have won their remaining four Europa League games this season by an aggregate score of 9-0.
As a result, West Ham have booked their place in the knockout stage as Group H winners with a game to spare.
Having become only the second side to beat the Blues in England’s top-flight this season, the Londoners will be looking to build momentum going into the business end of the year.
While West Ham have nothing but entertainment to play for in the capital, Dinamo Zagreb’s hopes of joining their hosts in the Europa League knockout phase are up in the air.
Heading into the final Europa League group stage matchday, the Croatian side are two points clear of third-placed Genk.
As they boast a superior H2H record, a draw in London will be enough to ensure Zagreb’s safe passage to the competition’s knock-outs, regardless of Genk’s result against Rapid Vienna.
West Ham United vs Dinamo Zagreb Head-to-Head
Michail Antonio and Declan Rice scored either side of half-time to fire West Ham to a comfortable 2-0 win in Zagreb on the opening Europa League matchday.
That meeting remains the Hammers’ solitary encounter against Croatian opposition across major European competitions.
Meanwhile, the Croats have failed to win their previous nine European visits to English sides (D2, L7), including all five defeats to London clubs.
West Ham United Preview
While they’ve had several ups and downs in the Premier League this season, West Ham have been a force to be reckoned with in the Europa League, reinforcing their status of the competition’s dark horses.
The Hammers have not only gone unbeaten in all five Group H matches so far (W4, D1), but they’ve netted 2+ goals in each outing in the process, averaging 2.2 goals per game.
West Ham’s overall European home record speaks volumes, with the London side boasting a resounding 70% win ratio on home turf (GP27: W19, D3, L5).
An unbeaten group stage finish is there for the taking, but given the Irons’ hectic Premier League schedule in December, Moyes could make some alterations to his starting XI.
Michail Antonio, who skipped West Ham’s trip to Vienna last time out, could return to the starting line-up as part of the gaffer’s bid to get his star forward back on the rails.
Since scoring in a 1-0 win over Tottenham in late October, the Jamaican has drawn a blank in his last six Premier League appearances.
But after breaking the deadlock in the reverse fixture in Zagreb, Antonio will fancy his chances of launching another scoring spree against familiar foes.
Dinamo Zagreb Preview
Despite their abovementioned horrific European record on English soil, there’s a silver lining for Zagreb, as a draw here would suffice for qualification for the Europa League knock-outs.
Grabbing that point could be easier said than done, as the Blues have suffered three defeats across their last four Europa League away fixtures (W1) after conceding first on each occasion.
Back-to-back domestic losses to fierce rivals Rijeka and Hajduk Split douse any embers of optimism in the travelling camp, with Zagreb pursuing their first competitive clean sheet in eight matches.
Any hopes of staging an upset in London may hinge on robust striker Bruno Petkovic, who has tallied three goals in the Europa League group stage.
However, it’s worth noting that two of those three strikes arrived from the penalty spot.
West Ham United vs Dinamo Zagreb Predicted Line-ups
West Ham United (4-2-3-1): Alphonse Areola; Vladimir Coufal, Issa Diop, Craig Dawson, Arthur Masuaku; Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek; Andriy Yarmolenko, Nikola Vlasic, Manuel Lanzini; Michail Antonio.
Dinamo Zagreb (4-2-3-1): Dominik Livakovic; Daniel Štefulj, Rasmus Lauritsen, Kevin Theophile-Catherine, Sadegh Moharrami; Mislav Orsic, Josip Misic; Amer Gojak, Luka Ivanusec, Bruno Petkovic; Komnen Andric.
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