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West Ham United vs AZ Alkmaar betting tips: Europa Conference League semi-final first leg preview, predictions, team news and odds

West Ham United vs AZ Alkmaar odds and betting statistics

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West Ham United vs AZ Alkmaar match preview

It’s 42 years since AZ featured in a European final; it’s 47 years since West Ham’s last appearance in a European final.

Who will take a giant step towards changing that fact with a victory in this first leg in East London?

West Ham United boasted a perfect record, ten wins out of ten, in this competition, prior to their quarter-final first leg draw with Gent in Belgium.

They then went 1-0 down at home, but two goals from Michail Antonio, a Lucas Paquetá penalty and a Declan Rice solo effort secured an emphatic 4-1 victory.

Last season, David Moyes’ men got all the way to the Europa League semis, ousting Sevilla and Lyon, before falling to Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Irons haven’t won continental silverware since 1965, beating 1860 Munich in the Cup Winners’ Cup Final at Wembley, with their last major trophy of any kind coming 43 years ago yesterday, lifting the FA Cup.

This, pretty much, secures safety for West Ham, meaning they can fully focus on this competition.

As for AZ, their sole appearance, to date, in a European final came in the UEFA Cup in 1981, beaten 5-4 on aggregate by Sir Bobby Robson’s Ipswich Town.

The Cheeseheads began their latest European adventure way back in July, with this set to be their 17th Europa Conference League fixture of the season.

During the knockout phase, Pascal Jansen’s team have impressively swatted aside Lazio, before producing a remontada against Anderlecht in the quarter-finals.

Following a 2-0 defeat in Brussels, AZ won 2-0 at home, Vangelis Pavlidis with two early goals, before advancing via a penalty shootout, converting all four spot-kicks, while Mat Ryan made two saves.

De Kaasboeren drew 0-0 with Ajax at Johan Cruijff Arena on Saturday night, ensuring they’re, pretty much, guaranteed to remain fourth in the Eredivisie, no higher or indeed lower.

Thus, AZ too will be completely focussed on this tie and, with a second leg at AFAS Stadion to come, will just be looking to leave East London with this tie in the balance.

Will West Ham United establish an unassailable advantage at the London Stadium?

West Ham United team news

David Moyes isn’t likely to make too many changes, following an impressive weekend win over Manchester United.

Alphonse Areola will return in goal, in place of Łukasz Fabiański, having started 23 successive European matches.

Kurt Zouma is the only real injury concern, meaning Nayef Aguerd will be partnered by Angelo Ogbonna at the back.

The rest of the XI will be unchanged from Sunday, with Michail Antonio leading the line, chosen over Danny Ings, while Gianluca Scamacca is sidelined.

Emerson Palmieri has won the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Super Cup and UEFA European Championships, meaningn he’s just three games away from completing the set.

Predicted XI (4-3-3): Areola; Coufal, Aguerd, Ogbonna, Emerson; Rice, Souček, Paquetá; Bowen, Benrahma, Antonio.

AZ Alkmaar team news

Left-back Milos Kerkez will miss the first leg suspended, while former Stoke centre-back Bruno Martins Indi and star number ten Dani de Wit are both out injured, the latter having not featured since January.

The absence of de Wit is a massive blow, with Sven Mijnans attempting to fill his large void, chosen over USA international Đorđe Mihailović.

Goalkeeper Mat Ryan, who joined from København in January, has never lost at the London Stadium, winning 3-0 there in 2017, before a 3-3 draw three years later, both during his time at Brighton.

Vangelis Pavlidis is AZ’s top-scorer this season, with nine of his 22 goals coming in the Europa Confernece League.

Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Ryan; Sugawara, Beukema, Chatzidiakos, M. de Wit; Clasie, Reijnders, Mijnans, Odgaard, van Brederode; Pavlidis.

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Ben Gray

Arsenal fan – follow them over land and sea (and Leicester); sofa Celtic supporter; a bit of a football '"encyclopedia".

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