West Ham United make their UEFA Europa League group-stage debut in Croatia on Thursday, when David Moyes' men take on Dinamo Zagreb in Group H.
The Hammers will seek to extend their unbeaten start to the 2021/22 campaign at the Maksimir Stadium, where they will take on the Croatian First Football League champions and European regulars in front of an estimated 20,000-strong crowd, including up to 2,000 West Ham supporters.
West Ham qualified for the Europa League by finishing sixth in the Premier League last season with a record 65 points and 19 wins, and have been drawn in Group H alongside Dinamo, Belgian side Genk and Austrian outfit Rapid Vienna.
The Irons have been installed as third favourites to win the tournament, despite being seeded in Pot 3 and having not played in the proper stages of European competition since the 2006/07 UEFA Cup, when they were eliminated in the first round by Italian side Palermo!
Before then, West Ham won the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1965, reached the final again in 1976 and the quarter-finals in 1981. In 1999, Harry Redknapp's side won the UEFA Intertoto Cup and reached the UEFA Cup second round. The Hammers twice qualified for the UEFA Europa League qualifying rounds in 2015 and 2016, but were eliminated before the tournament proper.
Moyes, his staff, players, supporters and everyone associated with the Club will hope to embark on a long run in the competition, which has been streamlined this season, with just 32 clubs competing in the group stage, down from 48 last term.
The Scot previously guided Everton through the UEFA Cup/Europa League group stage twice, in 2007/08 and 2009/10, so will be seeking to complete a personal hat-trick with the Hammers this term.
West Ham United's allocation of 2,000 tickets for Thursday's tie is no longer on sale.
However, seats are on sale for our home UEFA Europa League group-stage ties with Rapid Vienna, Genk and Dinamo Zagreb, our Premier League home game with Brentford and Carabao Cup third-round match at Manchester United.
West Ham United will have close to 2,000 supporters attending Thursday's UEFA Europa League opener at Dinamo Zagreb and David Moyes and his squad cannot wait to hear your backing from the stands.
Turnstiles open two hours ahead of the 18.45 (local time) kick-off and supporters attending are urged to arrive early and must be prepared to show their ticket, photo ID and COVID test certificate.
Supporters who need to exchange their voucher for their match ticket can do so at the ticket collection facility at the stadium from 11:00 local time today.
Please note that no bags are allowed in the stadium and Dinamo Zagreb have informed us that there is no bag drop facility.
How can I follow the game?
Kick-off on Thursday at 5.45pm UK time (6.45pm in Zagreb), with the tie being broadcast live on television by BT Sport 2 in the UK. Please check your local TV listings if you live outside the UK.
We will also be covering the game live with a blog and audio commentary on whufc.com and our Official App and across our social media channels, with goals, highlights and exclusive reaction to follow after the final whistle.
David Moyes could hand debuts to recent signings Alphonse Areola, Kurt Zouma, and Alex Král (pictured, below), while the likes of Club captain Mark Noble, Ryan Fredericks, Issa Diop, Manuel Lanzini and Andriy Yarmolenko will be hoping to see some action in Croatia.
Arthur Masuaku remains the Hammers' only injury concern, as Moyes continues to manage his return from a knee injury. The DR Congo international has featured in Premier League 2 this season, and has returned to first team training.
Meanwhile, Croatia international Nikola Vlašić, who joined the Hammers from CSKA Moscow in August, is a former Hajduk Split player who has played against Dinamo Zagreb more than a dozen times in his career, and also scored twice at the Maksimir Stadium for his country.
Dinamo Zagreb have a talented squad containing a number of current Croatia internationals, including goalkeeper Dominik Livaković, midfielder Luka Ivanušec and forwards Mislav Oršić and Bruno Petković. Oršić scored 24 goals last season.
The club's most experienced player is captain Arijan Ademi, who has made over 300 appearances for the Croatian champions, and was part of North Macedonia's squad at UEFA Euro 2020 this summer.
The opposition – Dinamo Zagreb
Founded in 1911 as HŠK Građanski and reformed in 1945 as Dinamo Zagreb , Thursday's opponents won the Yugoslav First League nine times and eight Yugoslav Cups before Croatia declared independence in 1991.
Since independence, Dinamo has dominated Croatian football, winning 22 First League titles, 16 Croatian Cups and six Croatian Super Cups.
Dinamo have played well over 300 matches in European competition since 1958, including 138 in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League and 128 in the UEFA Cup/Europa League.
Zagreb enjoyed continental success during the Yugoslav era, winning the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1967, beating Leeds United in the final, having previously reached the final in 1963.
The club is also famous for its youth academy, which has produced a long succession of some of the best footballers in Yugoslavian and Croatian history.
The present-day Dinamo Zagreb is managed by former midfielder Damir Krznar (pictured, above), who was appointed earlier this year following spells as assistant and interim manager over the past five years. He led Dinamo to the Croatian domestic double last season.
West Ham United manager David Moyes and his squad are excited for the start of the UEFA Europa League campaign
I am really looking forward to it. There is great excitement for us and for the supporters. The travel isn’t too bad for any of us - the trips don’t seem too far away. I hope the supporters can go to the away games and enjoy themselves and behave themselves. We want West Ham to be a regular thing in Europe. We hope the supporters can enjoy a few days away when we get the chance.
West Ham United faced Dinamo Zagreb's predecessor, Građanski Zagreb, in a friendly match in what was then Yugoslavia in November 1936, winning 1-0.
The Hammers have not faced Dinamo Zagreb in a competitive first-team fixture since the club was reformed in 1945, but they formed the opposition for Geoff Pike’s Testimonial in May 1988.
The Irons' development squad also faced Dinamo's U21s in the Premier League International Cup in November 2018. Zagreb won 2-0 at Chigwell Construction Stadium.
Of players, Croatia great Davor Suker played for both West Ham and Dinamo Zagreb during his sensational career.
West Ham's most-recent visit to Croatia was in September 1999, when Harry Redknapp's side completed a 6-1 aggregate victory in the UEFA Cup first round courtesy of a 3-1 win.
Referee: Ruddy Buquet (France)
Assistant Referees: Guillaume Debart and Benjamin Pages (France)
Fourth Official: Amaury Delerue (France)
VAR: Benoît Millot (France)
Assistant VAR: Mikael Berchebru (France)
The experienced UEFA First Category referee Rudy Buquet was born in Amiens in north eastern France in January 1977.
The 44-year-old was promoted to France's Ligue 2 in 2005 and Ligue 1 three years later, before being appointed to the FIFA List in 2011.
Buquet was the man in the middle for Tottenham Hotspur's recent UEFA Conference League qualifier with Pacos Ferreira of Portugal in north London.
He has also officiated a host of high-profile fixtures in his homeland, including the 2019 Coupe de France final between Rennes and Paris Saint-Germain, two Coupe de la Ligue finals and two Trophée des Champions.