West Ham boss David Moyes is expecting a tough ride in this season’s Europa League, ahead of West Ham’s first group game against Serbian side Backa Topola.
As holders of the UEFA Europa Conference League, West Ham automatically qualified for the Europa League, a competition where they reached the semi-finals two years ago.
West Ham have a tricky group with their other two opponents being Olympiacos and Freiburg, but Moyes’ side have a lot to be confident about when it comes to European football.
“I think you need to look at the teams in the Europa League. I think the European competitions have got tougher!.
“So many teams who have been regular Champions League teams have found themselves in the Europa League. Quite a lot of the teams who were in the Europa League have found themselves in the Conference League.”
“I think the strength of European football is really really strong. The Champions League is obviously the one you want to be recognised for. We are thrilled we are in the Europa League again, two years out of three now.
“I believe the competition has got tougher than when we were in it two years ago.”
Unlike last season, West Ham’s start in the Premier League has been fantastic, only losing once in five games, albeit to champions Manchester City.
This form, combined with knowing what they are capable of in European football could make West Ham favourites to go far in this season’s Europa League.
The other Premier League clubs may be fancying their chances too with Liverpool dropping down to the Europa League, and Brighton making their European football debut. Moyes spoke of the potential threats that come could West Ham’s way.
“To have Liverpool and Brighton out of the Premier League in the competition you are in, and you can see the form that Brighton are in, and the history with Liverpool have had in European football over many years.
“To talk about favourites at this stage is not really worthwhile until we see the teams that drop down, and the teams who qualify. It is very very difficult to work out.”