West Ham avoid Europa League play-off nightmare

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West Ham United avoided a nightmare in Europa League qualification against Fiorentina in Serie A after the first seed.

The Hammers missed out on a second successive Europa League season when they lost to Brighton on the final day of last season.

David Moyes’ team must therefore be content with the Europa Conference League.

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West Ham fully embraced and adored every minute of their European adventure last season which saw them all the way to the semi-finals.

A ‘gutted’ Declan Rice said after the heartbreak against Eintracht Frankfurt that he and his West Ham team-mates ‘wanted more’ European football.

The same goes for West Ham fans.

West Ham must now play a two-legged qualifier next month in order to make the Europa Conference League group stage a real success.

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The play-off round features 10 teams and the draw will take place next Tuesday, August 2 at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, at 1pm UK time.

The home and away matches will be played on August 18 and 25.

The Conference League may be designed primarily to give some minnows from vastly lower leagues a taste of European football.

But there will also be heavy hitters from the top leagues, as last season’s semi-finals and final proved – between Roma and Feyenoord.

Not that West Ham can afford to be picky considering we haven’t won a major trophy since 1980.

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West Ham avoid Europa League qualifier nightmare against Fiorentina after first seed

West Ham will initially be drawn against two teams who will play each other over the next two weeks for the right to play them. Moyes and the boys won’t know exactly who they’ll be up against until Thursday, August 11.

But they know who they won’t be up against and that will be a big relief.

Because West Ham avoided a nightmare in Europa League qualification against Fiorentina after the Italian team’s first seed.

And it made big news in Italy where avoiding West Ham was seen as a major boost for La Viola (Soccer Italy).

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“Fiorentina will be the top seed in the Europa Conference League play-off draw, allowing them to avoid Gianluca Scamacca’s West Ham United,” Soccer Italy report.

Of course, West Ham would have no reason to fear Fiorentina given the level of opposition they face in the Premier League.

But playing the seventh-best team in Serie A would clearly not be Moyes’ wish in the qualifying phase.

La Viola needed Kazakhstan’s Astana out of the way to earn seeded status in the draw and they got their wish today as Astana fell to Polish club Racow.

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West Ham avoid Europa League qualifying nightmare: but what now?

This means that Fiorentina will not be paired with clubs like West Ham, FC Koln and OGC Nice.

Besides West Ham – at least on paper – Fiorentina and Villarreal are the strongest teams in the qualifying mix.

The draw will be divided into two parts, the “champions course” and the “main course”. The majority of teams, including West Ham, will play in the Main Path.

West Ham are one of four main lane teams guaranteed to be the seeded side of the draw, alongside Spanish side Villarreal, the losers of the Europa League qualifier of Partizan Belgrade against AEK Larnaca or Midtjylland, and the winner of Zorya Luhansk. Conference League play-off with Vllaznia or Universitatea Craiova.

Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for the London Football Awards

Now all eyes are on next Tuesday’s draw – and Moyes will be greatly relieved that Fiorentina are the top seed.

West Ham will be without Declan Rice for both legs of qualification as he is serving a two-game ban while Moyes will also be out for the first leg as he is serving a one-game ban.

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