West Ham United set for UEFA Europa League group stage!
So, we’re in the UEFA Europa League group stage for the first time...
West Ham United’s sixth-place Premier League finish last season secured a place in the UEFA Europa League group stage for the first time in the Club’s history.
The Irons begin their challenge in the 2021/22 tournament with a trip to Croatia on Thursday evening, when they take on First Football League champions and European regulars Dinamo Zagreb at the Maksimir Stadium.
Kick-off is at 5.45pm UK time, with the tie being broadcast live on television by BT Sport, while over 1,000 West Ham supporters are making the trip to the Croatian capital this week.
Isn’t the Europa League going to be a slightly different competition this season?
Yes, it is. The re-introduction of a third European competition, the UEFA Conference League, means the 2021/22 UEFA Europa League will be a streamlined competition.
The Europa League group stage is being contested by just 32 teams, rather than the 48 who were involved last season, with eight more dropping in from the UEFA Champions League in the knockout play-off round that follows.
The 32 competing clubs have been drawn into eight groups of four, with the eight group winners qualifying directly for the round of 16 knockout phase.
The eight group-stage runners-up will contest a preliminary knockout round in ties against the eight clubs who finish third in their UEFA Champions League groups for the right to join them, while the eight third-place Europa League group finishers will drop into the new UEFA Conference League after Christmas.
The 16 remaining teams will then be gradually whittled down to two, who will contest the final at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán in Seville, Spain, on 18 May 2022.
Who is in our group?
Each of the 32 clubs taking part in the group stage is assessed a UEFA club coefficient (CC).
West Ham United’s CC of 20.113 was calculated as 20% of England’s coefficient over the last five seasons (100.565), as that figure was higher than the points we collected ourselves for reaching the UEFA Europa League play-off round in 2016/17.
Clubs who have competed in Europe regularly in recent seasons have higher CCs and were therefore seeded higher in the group-stage draw.
So, West Ham were one of eight clubs seeded in Pot 3 and were drawn in Group H alongside Dinamo Zagreb, Genk and Rapid Vienna.
Our opening-night hosts Dinamo Zagreb were in Pot 1 after being knocked out of the UEFA Champions League Play-Off round by Moldovan club Sheriff Tiraspol. Dinamo are the reigning Croatian champions, have won the First Football League title in 15 of the previous 16 years and reached the Europa League quarter-finals last season before losing 3-1 on aggregate to eventual winners Villarreal of Spain.
Seeded in Pot 2 were Genk, the Belgian Cup holders and runners-up in last season’s Belgian First Division A.
Champions of Belgium as recently as 2018/19, Genk is famed for its talent development and recruitment, with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois, Christian Benteke, Yannick Carrasco coming through the ranks, and Kalido Koulibaly, Wilfred Ndidi and Sergej Milinković-Savić all spending part of their early careers at the Luminus Arena.
Seeded in Pot 4 are Rapid Vienna, who finished second in the Austrian Bundesliga and third in their Europa League group last season.
Regulars in European competition, Rapid Vienna defeated Anorthosis Famagusta of Cyprus and Zorya Luhansk of Ukraine to qualify for this season’s group stage.
Who else is in the tournament?
The UEFA Europa League group stage is comprised of 32 clubs from 20 different countries, divided into eight groups.
David Moyes’ Hammers are rated as third favourites to win the tournament behind favourites Napoli of Italy and fellow English Premier League side Leicester City, with Italians Lazio, German team Bayer Leverkusen and Spanish club Real Sociedad coming next.
Lyon of France, who finished fourth in Ligue 1 last season, have the highest UEFA club coefficient with 76.00. They are in Group A alongside the club with the lowest CC, Danish Superliga champions Brøndby, Scottish side Rangers and Sparta Prague of the Czech Republic.
The full group make-up is as follows:
Group A: Lyon, Rangers, Sparta Prague, Brøndby
Group B: Monaco, PSV Eindhoven, Real Sociedad, Sturm Graz
Group C: Napoli, Leicester City, Spartak Moscow, Legia Warsaw
Group D: Olympiacos, Eintracht Frankfurt, Fenerbahçe, Antwerp
Group E: Lazio, Lokomotiv Moscow, Marseille, Galatasaray
Group F: Braga, Red Star Belgrade, Ludogorets Razgrad, Midtjylland
Group G: Bayer Leverkusen, Celtic, Real Betis, Ferencváros
Group H: Dinamo Zagreb, Genk, West Ham United, Rapid Vienna
When will our group-stage matches take place?
Our six group-stage fixtures will be held on Thursday evenings throughout the autumn and early winter as follows:
16 September 2021: Dinamo Zagreb v West Ham United, Maksimir Stadium, 5.45pm
30 September 2021: West Ham United v Rapid Vienna, London Stadium, 8pm
21 October 2021: West Ham United v Genk, London Stadium, 8pm
4 November 2021: Genk v West Ham United, Luminus Arena, 5.45pm
25 November 2021: Rapid Vienna v West Ham United, Allianz Stadium, 5.45pm
9 December 2021: West Ham United v Dinamo Zagreb, London Stadium, 8pm
Should we progress as group winners, we will not play again until 10 and 17 March in the Round of 16. Should we progress as group runners-up, we will take on a UEFA Champions League third-place opponent on 17 and 24 February.
Should we finish third in the group, we would then be transferred to the knock-out stages of the UEFA Conference League. The remainder of the competition is detailed below:
17 & 24 February 2022: Knockout round play-offs
10 & 17 March 2022: Round of 16
7 & 14 April 2022: Quarter-finals
28 May & 5 May 2022: Semi-finals
18 May 2022: Final
Where can I get tickets?
Tickets for the three home Group H fixtures are on General Sale now, priced from £30 for Adults and £15 for Concessions.
The Club has secured an extra allocation of 757 tickets for Thursday’s opening Group H at Dinamo Zagreb, taking our total allocation to 2,000. The tickets are available for Season Ticket Holders to purchase until 5pm on Tuesday 14 September by clicking here.