West Ham v Astra Giurgiu – London Stadium at 19:45 live on BT Sport 2
On Thursday evening West Ham play Romanian side Astra Giurgiu in the 2nd leg of this Europa League play-off, after a disappointing result for the Hammers in Romania.
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After travelling to Romania in the midst of a hectic playing schedule (3 games in a single week), West Ham would have much appreciated an away win, although they had to settle for a 1-1 draw in the 1st leg.
Slaven Bilic’s side took the lead after 45 minutes when Mark Noble calmly slotted away a penalty, although West Ham couldn’t hold out and conceded in the 83rd minute as Denis Alibec equalised.
All is left to play for on Thursday now, as West Ham hope to avoid being knocked out of the competition by Astra for the second year running!
They’ll be boosted by their Premier League victory last weekend against Bournemouth however, as Antonio netted late on in the game to give them all 3 points in their first home league match at their new London Stadium.
The Hammers lost their first game of the season the week before at Stamford Bridge however, as Diego Costa scored a late winner to make the final scoreline 2-1 to The Blues.
West Ham will be disappointed that Andy Carroll is out injured yet again, whilst Dimitri Payet also missed last weekend’s game against Bournemouth with a knock and is unlikely to feature in this Europa League clash.
Last season’s Romania Liga 1 winners Astra Giurgiu have had a terrible start to their new campaign and have lost 3 out of their 5 opening matches, whilst only winning 1. Their only victory, which ended up being a decisive 3-1 league win, came 2 weeks ago against bottom of the table ACS Poli Timişoara.
Last weekend Astra suffered a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of CFR Cluj and so the visitors will no doubt he short of confidence.
Another worry for Astra is that in their second round Champions League qualifier against FC Copenhagen, they also drew the 1st leg 1-1, but went on to lose the away game in Denmark by a 3-0 scoreline. Even when taking into account their other away fixtures across all competitions, there is no doubt that Astra perform better at home.
Last week the game in Romania was pretty dull and Slaven Bilic didn’t even play a full strength side and it showed, with West Ham missing several good chances in both halves. As a result of West Ham’s busy fixture schedule, there is a chance that a similar thing could happen as Bilic looks to rest players ahead of their Premier League clash at the Etihad against Man City on Sunday. There is no doubt that West Ham should win this tie, although taking into account their injuries and players getting rested I think victory will only be by a 1 goal margin and therefore I recommend backing Astra Giurgiu +1.5 on the Asian Handicap betting market.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Astra Giurgiu +1.5 @ 1.92 with Pinnacle
Prices correct at time of writing.