West Ham v Astra – Europa League Qualifications

West Ham v Astra

First leg ended in a draw (1:1) which is disappointing for West Ham, who are a clear favorite compared to the Romanian squad. Despite that, “The Hammers” can still be happy, as they are going into second leg with an away goal advantage.  On the home ground, West Ham will enjoy a huge moral support from their fans, as they have sold out ALL the tickets for the upcoming match. Taking into consideration previous match a draw (0:0) would be enough for West Ham to win, but quite frankly we cannot expect from them to play defensively and a 0:0 match surely is not what they want to show their fans. They are capable to produce a much better result and they surely will. Looking at previous matches West Ham played, they did perform well. Pre-season friendly against Juventus ended in (2:3) for the “Old Lady). Despite the loss, it was a decent result for the English team, who held the (2:2) result until 85′ when Zaza got his team the lead. In the opening match in EPL “The Hammers” were close to 1 point against Chelsea, but Costa Sunk their hopes in 89′ with a goal that gave Chelsea a lead (2:1). Second match of the league was better for West Ham, as they got their first 3 points of the season against Bournemouth (1:0). Now they seem prepared to get their ticket to Europa League.

Astra has been playing poorly in recent matches, winning only 2 out of last 10 matches played, and it might be due to their coach being sidelined. He will have to stay on the bench for this game, so his absence could affect the team, and not in a good way.  Another problem I saw in Astra’s game play is their defense. It seems there is a highway in their defense, open for opponents to get to the goal. Looking at previous 5 matches, they have been conceding an average of 2 goals per match. This is a clear sign there is some work to do. As for their attacking line, Alibec is sidelined due to injury and his replacement Niculae just is not performing up to par.

West Ham should win this one by more than a goal. Home stadium, huge support and Astra’s defense with holes the size of Swiss cheese will surely contribute to a good result for “The Hammers”. Astra is not expected to outperform their opponents, solely because if they cannot perform in the domestic league (Romainan Liga 1), how will they stand a chance against a team who plays in EPL at their home stadium? Take West Ham to win this one by 2 goals.

Prediction: West Ham -1.5
Odds: 1.96 Pinnacle