Want to see how (an albeit understrength) Slaven Bilic team fits together? West Ham’s first competitive match of the new season begins on Thursday, July 28, with a third round qualifying tie in the Europa League.
They travel to Slovenian side NK Domzale in the two-legged affair – with the action available to viewers on BT Sport 2 with coverage starting from 7.30pm. The match will also be live streamed through the BT sports app.
What’s the team news?
Bilic is likely to be without players who reached the latter stages of the Euro 2016 and there’s no Aaron Cresswell but it would provide an opportunity to see how the new boys are settling in, with Sofiane Feghouli the pick of the bunch during a patchy pre-season tour. Diafra Sakho and Manuel Lanzini will also be absent through injury.
What does Bilic think?
“We are happy with our preparations,” Bilic told the official club website .
“We have done everything that wanted to do, but still we have to make a balance in our preparations to compromise some things because the competitive games don’t start on August 15, they start on Thursday.
“It’s not ideal but I’m really pleased with the way we’ve trained. We are still expecting a few players to come back, those who have been playing in the European Championships.
“If we continue to work hard like this, with dedication and humility, we can expect good things.”
Will West Ham take it seriously?
Last time around, the new manager Bilic used the Europa League as extension of the pre-season, seemingly throwing away a chance to progress in exchange for a greater understanding of the squad he had inherited.
However, West Ham’s ambitions are greater now, with a new stadium in place and the “surprise package” tag already out of date. With the Premier League ultra-competitive this season, a Europa League entry into the Champions League is a viable way to proceed.
Who are NK Domzale?
NK Domzale are two-times winners of the domestic league and finished third in the Slovenian PrvaLiga. They have limited European exposure and beat Andorran side Lusitanos (5-2 on aggregate) and Belarusian outfit Shakhtyor Soligorsk (3-2 on aggregate) to gain a match-up with the Irons.
Striker Slobodan Vuk (29 goals in 99 league games) and winger Matric Crnic, who has just won his first international cap, are their most notable players.
How did pre-season go?
3-0 v Seattle Sounders L
2-2 v Carolina RailHawks D
2-2 v FC Slovacko D
3-0 v Rubin Kazan W
0-3 v Karlsruher SC L
Any other cup news?
The Hammers’ hunger to bag some silverware has meant that the club is fielding a team in the EFL trophy. The competition traditionally involves clubs in the third and fourth tiers but some selected invited sides have been offered a chance to enter teams comprising first-team and academy players.