- West Ham face Romanian champions Astra Giurgiu in UEFA Europa League play-off round
- Hammers were defeated 4-3 on aggregate by Astra in the same competition last season
- Slaven Bilic says West Ham will take Thursday's tie very seriously
When and where?
Astra Giurgiu v West Ham United
UEFA Europa League play-off round first leg
Thursday 18 August 2016, 9.15pm CEST (7.15pm BST)
Stadionul Marin Anastasovici
What’s the story?
West Ham United continue their quest for a maiden UEFA Europa League crown by taking on Romanian Liga I champions Astra Giurgiu on Thursday evening.
The Hammers take on Astra in the play-off round with a place in the lucrative group stage at stake, having been defeated by the same opposition in the third qualifying round last season.
This time round, Slaven Bilic is planning for things to be very different, having brought a strong yet injury-depleted squad to Eastern Europe.
The two clubs reached this stage by different paths, with the Hammers having finished seventh in the Premier League last season before overcoming NK Domzale of Slovenia 4-2 in the third qualifying round.
Astra, meanwhile, reached the UEFA Champions League qualifiers, only to be knocked out at the first stage by Danish side FC Copenhagen. That meant they dropped into the Europa League qualifiers.
West Ham are without a few first-team players in Romania, both through injury and also due to considerations being made ahead of Sunday's Premier League home opener with AFC Bournemouth at London Stadium.
Aaron Cresswell and Manuel Lanzini (both knee) are on the mend, while Andre Ayew misses out with the thigh injury he suffered at Chelsea on Monday evening. Dimitri Payet and Havard Nordtveit have been left in London to rest ahead of Sunday's game, while left-back Arthur Masuaku is cup-tied after playing for Olympiacos in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers earlier this summer.
Astra will be without their coach, Marius Sumudica, who has been suspended for two months due to off-field issues.
Any links between the two?
Well, as mentioned above, the two clubs faced one another in last season's UEFA Europa League.
The Hammers raced into a two-goal lead at the Boleyn Ground through goals from South American pair Enner Valencia and Mauro Zarate, only for a James Collins red card to spark a late comeback that saw the first leg end 2-2.
In the return leg in Giurgiu, Manuel Lanzini fired West Ham ahead on his debut after just two minutes, only for Romania international Constantin Budescu to net either side of half-time to send Astra through 4-3 on aggregate.
How do I get to the game?
Supporters travelling to Romania will likely be based in Bucharest. From the city, it is a 90-minute drive or train ride from the capital city's Nord station to Giurgiu. Approximately 400 West Ham fans are expected to attend the match.
The game will be played at Astra’s Stadionul Marin Anastasovici, which has an 8,500-capacity and is located in the southern Romanian city of Giurgiu, near to the border with Bulgaria.
Fans should note that tickets will NOT be on sale on matchday in Giurgiu, so they are strongly advised not to travel to the game without one.
Important information for supporters travelling to Astra Giurgiu
- Turnstiles open at 17.15 CEST two hours before the 19.15 CEST kick-off.
- Police may request that supporters requiring parking do so at the roundabout immediately prior to the approach road to the Stadium.
- Behind the parking area is a hotel with refreshment facilities for our supporters – Hotel Riviera - for those arriving before the Stadium is open. This is same facility that was used last year.
- There will be a three-stage check on arrival; a ticket check, a search and turnstile entry.
- Coins, lighters and bags will not be allowed in Stadium. Bags taken will be stored and ticket issued for collection post-match. Fans advised to only take essential items to the Stadium.
- Supporters will be held back for at least ten minutes post-match.
Where can I watch the game?
Thursday night’s match broadcast live in the UK by BT Sport 2 from 7pm BST. You can also follow the action on our digital channels with live audio commentary, in-game stats, Social Media updates and more. Head to whufc.com for the Live Match Centre, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.