Astra Giurgiu vs West Ham United Preview: Tough Romanian test stands in the way of group stages for the Hammers

West Ham will take on Astra Giurgiu for a place in the group stages of the Europa League

Astra Giurgiu vs West Ham United Preview: Tough Romanian test stands in the way of group stages for the Hammers
Photo: VAVEL/Jonathan Walsh

West Ham United are one step away from the group stages of the Europa League, as they seek vengeance when they take on Romanian side Astra Giurgiu.

Above: James Collins celebrating his goal in West Ham's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea | Photo: Getty Images
Above: James Collins celebrating his goal in West Ham's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea | Photo: Getty Images

Going one step further

The Hammers will be hoping that they can go one step further in this competition than they did last season and will be going up against similar opponents.

Slaven Bilic's side managed to go one qualifying round further than they did last year, thanks to their 4-2 aggregate win over NK Domzale. However they come up against the side that conquered them last season, as they were conquered 4-3 on aggregate last season.

The Hammers will be looking to pick themselves up, after they tasted defeat in the opening game of their league season.

They traveled across London to take on Antonio Conte's Chelsea, who took the lead early in the second period thanks to Eden Hazard's penalty. James Collins looked to have grabbed what was quite an undeserving point, but a late goal from Diego Costa dashed their hopes.

With their opening league game at the London Stadium with AFC Bournemouth around the corner, the Hammers will want a boost of confidence in Romania.

Above: West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic in his pre-match press conference ahead of their match with Astra Giurgiu | Photo: Getty Images
Above: West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic in his pre-match press conference ahead of their match with Astra Giurgiu | Photo: Getty Images

Expecting a tough game

Bilic and his side will know all too well about the strengths that Giurgiu have, and in his pre-match press conference, the Croatian said that he is expecting a tough contest.

Bilic told whufc.com: “I know they have many of the same players as last year," and assured the journalists "I know they have many internationals from different countries."

Bilic concluded: “I know the Romanian league, being from Croatia, and I know how good Romanian teams can be," and he was full adamant "OK, maybe they sold a few players, but I’m expecting a tough game.”

Above: Andre Ayew laying injured on the Stamford Bridge after West Ham's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea |Photo: Getty Images
Above: Andre Ayew laying injured on the Stamford Bridge after West Ham's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea |Photo: Getty Images

Team news

There is a few first-team faces that will be missing from the trip to Romania, and there will also be some considerations ahead of their match with Bournemouth.

Aaron Cresswell and Manuel Lanzini are both on the mend from their knee injuries, while club-record signing Andre Ayew has been confirmed to be out of four months after his injury Stamford Bridge.

Both Dimitri Payet and Havard Nordtveit have been left in the capital to rest up for Sunday, while Arthur Masuaku been cup-tied after his antics with Olympiacos.

The big absentee for Astra will be their coach, with Marius Sumudica been suspended for two months for off-field issues.

West Ham United will take on Astra Giurgiu in their Europa League play-off at the Stadionul Marin Anastasovici on Thursday, August 18 with kick-off at 7:45pm BST.