Astra Giurgiu v West Ham – Marin Anastasovici Stadium, Giurgiu at 19:15 live on BT Sport 2
On Thursday evening, West Ham travel to Romania to take on Astra Giurgiu in a Europa League play-off.
[expand title=”Read More…” swaptitle=”Hide” trigpos=”below” rel=”star-highlander” ]
This is not the first time these sides have faced each other in this competition and in August last year, Astra Giurgiu came out 2-1 winners, knocking the Hammers out of the Europa League, despite West Ham taking an early lead through Lanzini. Budescu scored a brace, which subsequently landed his side the victory on that occasion.
On Monday, the Hammers faced Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in their first Premier League game of the season and lost 2-1 as a result of a late winner scored by Diego Costa. Chelsea opened the scoring through Eden Hazard, who confidently netted a penalty after Antonio brought down Oscar inside the box. James Collins equalised however with an unbelievable strike, although West Ham failed to hold on and their London rivals took all 3 points.
Last season West Ham finished 7th in the Premier League table on 62 points after a great season under Slaven Bilić and they’ve continued to strengthen their squad this transfer window, with the likes of Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia), Andre Ayew (Swansea) and Gökhan Töre (loaned from Beşiktaş) all joining the Hammers.
In the last round of this competition, West Ham secured a 4-2 aggregate win over Slovenian side NK Domzale, which included an impressive 3-0 home victory which saw Kouyate score a brace and Feghouli find the net.
As for Astra Giurgiu, they’re currently 9th in the Romanian Liga 1 table after 4 games, having lost 2, drawn 1 and won 1.
Their only win, which ended up being a decisive 3-1 league victory, came last Saturday against bottom of the table ACS Poli Timişoara, with Săpunaru scoring a brace and Niculae netting the other goal
Both sides will want to get off to the best possible start in this first leg, with the return leg being held at West Ham’s new stadium on August 25th.
As for the result of this Europa League clash, West Ham are the clear favourites to win this tie, although I am not convinced they’ll win by more than a single goal margin and therefore I think there is better value on the overs market and I recommend backing over 2.5 goals at 2.09.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 2.5 goals @ 2.09 with Pinnacle
Prices correct at time of writing.