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Preview: West Ham United vs AZ Alkmaar – prediction, team news, line-ups

Preview: West Ham United vs AZ Alkmaar – prediction, team news, line-ups

West Ham United will hope to further their European dream when they take on AZ Alkmaar in their Europa Conference League semi-final first-leg clash at the London Stadium on Thursday night.

The Hammers head into the clash on the back of a morale-boosting 1-0 victory over Manchester United, which leaves them just one win away from safety.

David Moyes’ side have battled with the prospect of relegation throughout the campaign, and they can breathe a sigh of relief with seven points separating them from the drop zone.

While they are not completely out of the woods yet, they will switch their attention to the continental stage, hoping to end an appalling campaign with European glory.

After stunning Lazio in the last 16, AZ needed penalties to get past RSC Anderlecht in the quarter-final, but their recent form will bolster their confidence heading into Thursday’s encounter.

The Eredivisie side have won three of their last four games in all competitions (D1) – a welcome development for Pascal Jansen’s side, who had failed to win any of the previous four (D1, L3).

Last weekend’s goalless stalemate against Ajax left them just two points adrift of Europa League qualification and six ahead of fifth-placed Twente with three games left.

AZ will lock horns with West Ham for the first time ever, but they will fancy their chances of thwarting their Premier League counterparts with a famous European trophy within their reach.

Match Preview

West Ham have reached the semi-finals of a major European competition for the second consecutive season.

They will hope lightning does not strike twice, having been eliminated at this stage in the Europa League last season by eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt.

Their Conference League form has been a stark contrast to their Premier League performances, as they have conceded just six goals in ten games with an average of 0.6 per game in the tournament this term.

The Hammers boast the lowest tally of goals conceded among teams with more than three games in the competition this term, and only Fiorentina (+19) have a better goal difference than Moyes’ side (+18).

Jansen has steered AZ toward their first continental semi-final since the 2004/05 campaign, and the Dutch manager will be keen for his side to progress further.

While their recent form and momentum will do them the world of good heading into their first date with West Ham, their record against English clubs leaves little to be desired.

AZ have won just two of their previous 14 European meetings with Premier League clubs (D5, L7) and have lost all six away games against such opponents by an aggregate score of 20-5.

West Ham United vs AZ Alkmaar Potential Line-ups

West Ham United (4-2-3-1): Lucasz Fabianski; Thilo Kehrer, Nayef Aguerd, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell; Tomas Soucek, Declan Rice; Jarrod Bowen, Lucas Paqueta, Said Benrahma, Danny Ings.

AZ Alkmaar (4-2-3-1): Matthew Ryan; Milos Kerkez, Pantelis Hatzidiakos, Sam Beukema, Yukinari Sugawara; Tijjani Reijnders, Jordy Clasie; Myron Van Brederode, Sven Mijnans, Mayckel Lahdo; Vangelis Pavlidis.

We Say: West Ham United 2-1 AZ Alkmaar

AZ have what it takes to rise to the occasion, as evidenced by their journey to the semi-final.

However, West Ham’s European form and defensive solidity should spur them to victory in an end-to-end encounter poised to deliver the goods.

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