West Ham United will welcome Dinamo Zagreb to their London Stadium home on Thursday night in the final tie of the Europa League group stage. The Hammers top Group H, undefeated, with 13 points out of a possible 15.
Notably, West Ham have hitherto conceded on just two occasions in the competition, with both coming in an away tie with KRC Genk. David Moyes’ men boast an aggregate of 5-0 from their two home matches in the group.
Zagreb sit second in the group, with an insurmountable deficit of six points from their hosts. The Croatians will be looking nervously over their shoulders, however, as they are just two points ahead of Genk.
Should Genk beat Rapid Vienna on Thursday, Zagreb will require a draw to be safely through to the knockouts – save for a freak seven-goal victory for the Belgians. With the same outcome in Belgium, a defeat for Zagreb would mean a drop into the Europa Conference League.
Dinamo have had a mixed bag of results on their European travels, hammering 10-man Genk 3-0 in September before falling to a 2-1 defeat in Vienna three weeks later. The Modri have hit hard times of late, with domestic woe seeing them beaten by Hajduk Split and HNK Rijeka – the latter of which dumped Dinamo from the Croatian Cup.
Dinamo Zagreb have visited London on five occasions – none of which were to face West Ham – and only avoided defeat twice. The Croatians have never won on English soil.
The two sides have met just once – back in September at Dinamo’s Stadion Maksimir. West Ham ran out 2-0 victors with a goal in either half from Michail Antonio and Declan Rice, as Moyes’ men dominated the tie and restricted their hosts to zero shots on target. The win brought to an end Zagreb’s 13-game unbeaten run in Europa League group stage matches.
What is being said
Moyes spoke to press on Wednesday afternoon, stating: “Zagreb are a huge European club with great history. You only need to see the results against Tottenham [Hotspur] last season [to see] how good a team they are. I know there has been a few changes but they are a huge name. If you say “Dinamo Zagreb”, everyone knows exactly what you are talking about.
“I have got great respect for them because they are qualifying for European competitions most seasons – they have got experience. For us to go and win in Zagreb was such a starter for us in the group.
“I see this as a big game against a big opponent with a big history; we will need another big performance to get a result.”
The Hammers will have to look deep into their defensive reserves as a total of four starting XI backline players will miss out on the tie. Centre-back pair Angelo Ogbonna and Kurt Zouma are ruled out, with the latter picking up a muscle injury in West Ham’s 3-2 win over Chelsea last weekend.
Benjamin Johnson was also injured in Saturday’s win, and was substituted off minutes before halftime. A question mark remains over the availability of Aaron Creswell, who has been sidelined for the last two matches with an injury to his lower back.
Recently-appointed interim boss Zeljko Kopic could have a fully-fit squad to choose from, although Australian Deni Juric is a doubt having suffered from an injury since late September. Juric scored in his last two matches before being forced off during the win over Slaven Belupo.
Dinamo Zagreb: Dominik Livakovic; Daniel Stefulj, Rasmus Lauritsen, Kevin Theophile-Catherine, Sadegh Moharrami; Mislav Orsic, Josip Misic; Amer Gojak, Luka Ivanusec, Bruno Petkovic; Luka Menalo. (4-2-3-1)
When and where to watch
West Ham United’s clash with Dinamo Zagreb will be televised on BT Sport ESPN on Thursday 9th December 2021. Coverage begins at 19:30GMT, with kick-off half an hour later at 20:00GMT.