West Ham United’s UEFA Europa League Group H campaign continues on Thursday evening when they welcome Rapid Vienna to east London for our first-ever home game at this stage of the competition.
Having defeated Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 in our European opener two weeks ago, David Moyes will be searching for another three points to put the Hammers in a strong position a third of the way through the group phase.
Since that assignment in Croatia, the Hammers have triumphed against both Manchester United and Leeds United and will be buoyed by those successes on the road when they return in front of their own fans on Thursday.
Rapid were defeated 1-0 by Belgian Cup winners Genk in their first Europa League game, going down to a final minute goal, so know they will need to turn in a performance against the Hammers.
They will also be looking for a vast improvement on their domestic form – a total of eight points from their opening nine league games has left last season’s runners-up eleventh in the twelve-team table.
Here’s everything you need to know about the fixture.
It’s not too late to secure your ticket for our home European opener of the season! Head to eticketing.co.uk/whufc now to book your seat, with tickets starting at just £30 Adults and £15 Kids!
If you’re coming to the game, make sure you head to the Stadium Store before you get to your seat. Anyone shopping in the store can enter a prize draw with four tickets for our next Europa League home game and a £200 voucher up for grabs.
How to follow
Thursday’s kick-off is at 8pm, and this game will be broadcast live in the UK on BT Sport. If you live overseas you might be able to watch the game live too, so please check local listings for coverage in your territory.
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 made five changes to his West Ham United side when they travelled to Dinamo Zagreb in their previous game, with the likes of Issa Diop, Nikola Vlašić and Manuel Lanzini getting their chance in the team.
The trio will hope to be involved again, alongside other members of the XI which impressed in victory at Manchester United in the Carabao Cup a week ago.
Ryan Fredericks was forced from the action early in that game at Old Trafford with a groin problem and this contest may come too soon for the right-back but otherwise Moyes should have a full squad to choose from.
Michail Antonio and Declan Rice scored their debut European goals in Zagreb, while Kurt Zouma, Tomáš Souček and Aaron Cresswell all featured in Croatia too.
Rapid Vienna are synonymous with Austrian football.
No club has won the country’s championship more times than Rapid’s 32, while the Green-Whites have won the Austrian Cup on 14 occasions.
Rapid have also reached two European finals and contested well over 200 matches in continental competition since thrashing PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands in the European Cup first round back in 1955.
Founded as Erster Wiener Arbeiter-Fußball-Club (First Viennese Workers' Football Club) in 1897, the club took on its current identity less than two years later, in January 1899.
Rapid lived up to their name by winning Austria's first-ever national championship in 1911/12, then retained the title the following year.
The club continued to dominate during the inter-war period, winning a hat-trick of championships between 1919-21, including doubles courtesy of their first those 14 Austrian Cup triumphs in 1919 and 1920.
When Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany, Rapid responded by winning the German Cup in 1938 and Championship in 1941.
Into the post-war period and Rapid kept on winning, becoming Austria’s representatives in the first European Cup after winning their 19th League title in 1954/55.
Rapid’s early appearances in the new competition saw them achieve single-leg victories over AC Milan and the all-conquering Real Madrid, who needed a play-off to defeat the Austrians on their way to winning the trophy in 1956/57.
Rapid's best performance in the European Cup came in the 1960/61 season, when they reached the semi-final before being eliminated by eventual winners Benfica.
With both great city rivals Austria Vienna and Wacker Innsbruck emerging as powers of their own in the 1960s and 1970s, the domestic trophies began to dry up, but Rapid returned to prominence in the 1980s, winning back-to-back titles in 1981-82 and 1987-88, either side of an appearance in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1985, where they were beaten 3-1 by English club Everton.
Another appearance in the Cup Winners’ Cup final followed in 1996, but this time French side Paris Saint-Germain triumphed 1-0.
In the three-plus decades since that 1987/88 title win, Rapid have been crowned champions of Austria just three more times, with first Austria Vienna and latterly RB Salzburg enjoying periods of domestic dominance.
With Salzburg’s resources and outstanding recruitment making it difficult to see them being overhauled anytime soon, Rapid may have to make do with aiming for second place for the time being, but that is exactly where they finished last term, both in the regular season and the Championship round that followed.
That achievement secured European qualification for the 55th time in the club’s illustrious history.
The challenge now will be to emulate 2015/16 and 2018/19, when they successfully negotiated the group stage to reach the knockouts.
West Ham United will tackle Austrian opposition for the very first time in a competitive tie when Rapid Vienna visit London Stadium in UEFA Europa League Group H.
However, this will not be the maiden meeting between the two clubs, as the Hammers hosted Rapid at the Boleyn Ground in a floodlit challenge match in November 1955.
Rapid Vienna made their first visit to east London for what was billed simply as a ‘Floodlight Match’ on the evening of Tuesday 15 November 1955.
West Ham United had installed floodlights at the Boleyn Ground in 1953, playing their first match ‘under the lights’ against Tottenham Hotspur in April of that year.
Two-and-a-half-years on and the Hammers had got into the habit of hosting regular evening fixtures against overseas opposition, with West Germans VfB Stuttgart, Austrians SC Wacker, Italians AC Milan and Holland Sports Club of Rotterdam all paying a visit during the 1954/55 season.
And when Rapid Vienna became the first mainland European visitors of 1955/56 (Distillery of Northern Ireland had been beaten 7-5 in mid-October) they were already well on their way to being crowned national champions for the 20th time in their history when they arrived in Upton Park.
The free-scoring Rapid made a superb start, winning seven of their opening ten games prior to flying to England, scoring 30 goals in the process. The goals had been shared around, with Rapid’s prolific strikers Robert Dienst and Alfred Körner netting 13 between them.
West Ham, meanwhile, were having a much tougher time of things, having slumped to 15th in the Second Division table following a 3-1 defeat at Hull City on 12 November.
Ted Fenton was in the process of rebuilding his squad, with his own forwards John Dick and Billy Dare scoring goals galore, but too many being conceded at the other end to produce consistent results.
And it was Dare who found the net against Rapid, scoring from close-range to secure a creditable 1-1 draw against the Austrian visitors.
Referee: Tobias Stieler (Germany)
Assistant Referees: Christian Gittelmann (Germany) & Eduard Beitinger (Germany)
Fourth Official: Florian Badstübner (Germany)
VAR: Christian Dingert (Germany)
Assistant VAR: Paulus von Boekel (Netherlands)
Thursday night’s referee is 40-year-old German official Tobias Stieler.
Based in Hamburg, Stieler has been a referee with the German Football Association since 2004, rising to the Bundesliga in 2012 and the FIFA list two years later.
A lawyer by trade, Stieler has previously refereed 22 Europa League matches and last officiated an English side in December last year, when he took charge of Liverpool’s 1-0 Champions League victory over Ajax.