West Ham have made a decent start to the new Premier League season, while Backa Topola have been excellent on the home front in the Serbian League.
David Moyes’ side has made a better start to the 2023-24 Premier League season compared to what they did last season. The Hammers started the season with a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth before beating Chelsea 3-1 at the London Stadium on match week two. Lucas Paqueta. Michail Antonio and defender Nayef Aguerd were the goal scorers in the big London derby win.
Their performance of the season came at Brighton – a game they won 3-1 on the road. It was a defensive and counterattack masterclass from the Hammers. James Ward-Prowse continued his great start to life in London with another goal, Jarrod Bowen also got among the scoring act, while Antonio scored in back-to-back games. It was expected that they would beat newly promoted Luton Town before the international break and they rightly did. Bowen and Kurt Zouma got the goals in the 2-1 win, while Ward-Prowse got another assist from a corner.
After the international break, defending champions Manchester City were to be their guests at the London Stadium, though they gave a good account of themselves, they were handed their first loss of the season. Moyes’ men led at half-time through Ward-Prowse before a strong performance from the Citizens turned the game on its head.
Fresh from that defeat, West Ham United will entertain Backa Topola at the London Stadium in their UEFA Europa League opener on Thursday. It is the Hammers’ return to the competition, having won the UEFA Europa Conference League last season. They will be looking to make an early mark in the competition with a statement win on home turf as well.
In their previous appearance in Europe’s second-tier competition, they lost 3-1 on aggregate to Fiorentina in the semifinals of the 2021-22 season.
Meanwhile, Backa, who are the second oldest club in Serbian football, have made it to the group stage of the competition for the first time. They started their journey from the UEFA Champions League before losing 7-1 on aggregate to Braga to drop to the Europa League.
The Serbian side finished just behind Red Star Belgrade in the league last season but they have made a strong start to the new season. Backa currently sit top of the Serbian Super Liga and recorded an emphatic 6-3 win on Sunday over Zeleznicar Pancevo, in their first league game after the international break. Additionally, they have avoided defeat in their first seven league matches (W6, D1).
West Ham have been playing at different levels of European football in the past few seasons and they have the squad to compete for the title this season as well. Meanwhile, the Europa League group stage is a huge accomplishment for Žarko Lazetić’s Backa.
Without any doubt, Backa Topola are arguably both Group A and the whole tournament’s biggest underdogs, as they enter a European group stage for the first time in club history. A trip to a venue as iconic as the London Stadium is some stage for just their first-ever game against English opposition, but Backa Topola will certainly be confident as they’ve won 14 of their last 17 away matches (L3).
This is a group that has Olympiacos, Freiburg, and Thursday’s opponents Backa Topola, which means the Hammers cannot afford to slip in their first game of the new European season. West Ham play very well at the London Stadium as they’ve lost just three times on their own soil in 2023 (W9, D3).
This historic match at the Olympic Stadium in London kicks off on Thursday 21st September, at 8 PM UK time and it will be shown live on TNT Sports, with coverage starting from around 7 PM.
This is a Europa League clash between a recent European champion and another team making its first appearance at this stage. Thursday night will be special for Backa and their fans as they make it to the 60,000-capacity venue for this group opener.
Getting tickets for the West Ham United vs TSC Backa Topola tickets should not be a problem considering the kind of opposition coming to the ground. Anyways, you are advised to search ticket reselling sites should they be expectedly sold out on each club’s channels.
West Ham have made some progress this season in the manner they have started and Moyes might not be willing to disrupt that momentum despite the defeat last weekend. Kudus could be given a start alongside the in-form Ward-Prowse. Meanwhile, Edson Alvarez is suspended for this game after he was sent off in this competition while playing for Ajax last season.
West Ham United: Areola; Coufal, Zouma, Aguerd, Emerson; Soucek, Benrahma; Bowen, Kudus, Ward-Prowse, Antonio.
Backa do not have any injury worries for this game. The likes of Radin, Djakovac, and Petrovic are expected to continue in the middle of the park. This is their first-ever group stage match, so Lazetić might not make wholesale changes.
TSC Backa Topola: Llic; Antonic, Stojic, Cvetinovic; Vlalukin, Stanic, Radin, Djakovac, Petrovic; Jovanovic, Rakonjac.
West Ham are unbeaten in each of their last 15 European matches (W14, D1). Midfielder James Ward-Prowse has directly contributed to a goal in each of his last seven club appearances (G3, A5). Meanwhile, Backa Topola have Ifet Djakovac who has scored all three of his goals this season before half-time.
The Hammers have not kept a clean sheet in any game this season and that should give Backa some confidence ahead of this game. Additionally, Backa are on a four-game winning run, scoring 11 goals and conceding thrice.
West Ham United 3-1 TSC Backa Topola