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What to expect from West Ham and Leicester City in the Europa League

What to expect from West Ham and Leicester City in the Europa League

With the draw for the group stage of the Europa League now confirmed, English sides West Ham United and Leicester City know which European rivals they will be taking on this autumn. Leicester will be seeking to improve on their round-of-32 exit last season, while West Ham supporters will be looking forward to a proper European campaign, after they failed to make the group stage on their last two European quests in 2015-16 and 2016-17 respectively.

Of course, this year the Europa League takes on a new format, which will see it mirror the Champions League — 32 teams, eight groups of four, followed by knockout ties featuring the third-place Champions League teams. With fans already eagerly examining the football odds, let's take a look at Leicester and West Ham's opponents and predict how they will get on.

Leicester City

Group stage opponents: Napoli, Spartak Moscow, Legia Warsaw

Of all the teams competing in this year's Europa League, Napoli are probably the one that everyone wanted to avoid, and Leicester will certainly have their work cut out if they are to progress. But having been top four contenders in the Premier League for two successive seasons now, Brendan Rodgers and his side will feel like they can go toe-to-toe with Napoli and challenge for top spot in the group.

Whilst the Italian outfit have quality within their ranks, they are not quite the team who have given English clubs so much trouble in the Champions League in times gone by, and with a roaring, full capacity King Power Stadium it would be no surprise to see Leicester topple them.

Spartak Moscow and Legia Warsaw must not be taken lightly either. Two teams who have been semi-regulars in the Champions League over the last few years, both will take some stopping, and the long trips to Russia and Poland are never easy for any English side. Nonetheless, you'd expect Leicester to have the quality necessary to see both of them off, particularly at home, and we have every confidence that Leicester will progress to the last 16.

West Ham United

Group stage opponents: Dinamo Zagreb, Genk, Rapid Vienna

On the face of it, West Ham should be pretty pleased with their draw. David Moyes' side proved in the Premier League last season that they can lock horns with anyone and do themselves justice, and they'll be hoping to carry that momentum into their first Europa League group stage campaign.

Dinamo Zagreb have yo-yoed between the Champions League and Europa League over the last decade or so, and will have plenty of experience of what it takes to win matches on the European stage. They will be West Ham's main challengers for top spot, in a group that is challenging to call for those making football predictions.

Genk must not be underestimated either, but you sense that if the London Stadium can provide as raucous an atmosphere as was witnessed in West Ham's recent 4-1 Premier League win over Leicester, the Hammers should have too much for the Belgian club. The same can be said of Rapid Vienna, who as fourth seeds will likely be the whipping boys of the group.

The only question mark over West Ham is whether they will be up to the challenge of competing on all fronts this season. But with morale sky-high, we're predicting the Irons to make it into the knockout stages.

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