West Ham United vs NK Domzale Preview: Hammers needing comeback in Olympic Stadium debut

West Ham will be looking to reach the Europa League group stages when they take on NK Domazle in the second leg of their third-round qualifier

West Ham United vs NK Domzale Preview: Hammers needing comeback in Olympic Stadium debut
Above: Michail Antonio in action during West Ham's 2-1 defeat to NK Domazle | Photo; West Ham United via Getty Images

West Ham United will need a fight back if they are to reach the group stages of the Europa League, when they open the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to NK Domzale, in the second-leg of their Europa League third-round qualifier.

Shaken by the Slovenians

Slaven Bilic headed to the continent confident that the Hammers could progress into the group stages of the European competition against their Slovenian counterparts.

However, similarly to the same stage last season, West Ham were shaken once again by what many would expect to be a significantly weaker side.

Matic Crnic opened the scoring from the penalty spot after 11 minutes, before Mark Noble equalised with his own spot kick. However they headed back to the English capital empty-handed, with Crnic adding his and Domazle's second just after the restart.

Above: Adrian making a save in West Ham's 2-1 defeat to NK Domazle | Photo; whufc.com
Above: Adrian making a save in West Ham's 2-1 defeat to NK Domzale | Photo: whufc.com

Still in it

No real Hammers player stood out, but goalkeeper Adrian did shine among the rest, and produced an excellent double save right at the death to keep his side in the tie, and the Spaniard believes that the club are still in the tie.

He told whufc.com: "We are still in the tie and one more goal would have made a massive difference" and to "keep it at 2-1 was so important for us, even though it was still not a great result."

Adrian continued: “We tried to win the game and every player was disappointed with the performance as we didn't play as well as we did last season" but believes “we have a great chance in the second leg on a new pitch at our new stadium" and will have a "big crowd and it is a massive game for us" and admitted "it is a great chance for us to win in front of our own fans and keep up the confidence.”

He concluded: “I think everyone is excited to play this first game. We all want to play in the Europa League next season and we want to show our fans that we still have a strong squad like we did last season."

Above: A collection of NK Domazle players celebrating in their 2-1 win over West Ham United | Photo: West Ham United via Getty Images
Above: A collection of NK Domzale players celebrating in their 2-1 win over West Ham United | Photo: West Ham United via Getty Images

Taking inspiration from the stars

Despite their performance, many will still see Domazle as the underdog, but manager Luke Elsner, has said that his side will take inspiration from the film 300.

He told BBC Sport: "We are an army, we need to stick together to even have a chance of competing" and believes "West Ham have so much quality that if we did not work as a group then we would not have had a chance."

Elsner concluded: "Like 300, we are small and outnumbered, but we do everything we can to hold our position" and will use "a lot of motivational stuff through the season."

Team news

Full-back Sam Byram is expected to keep his place in Bilic's side, as he continues to look for a replacement for the injured Aaron Cresswell. Manuel Lanzini is another player that will miss out, as he the Argentine was confirmed to be out for five weeks, due to a knee injury.

Summer signing Ashley Fletcher will be pushing for a start ahead of Enner Valencia, and Darren Randolph, who had just signed a new deal with club, will be looking to battle Adrian.

Domazle are expected to keep a very similar side, with the hero from the first-leg Crnic, expected to lead the line once again.

West Ham United will take on NK Domzale at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Thursday, August 4 with kick-off at 7:45pm BST.