Preview: West Ham United vs. AZ Alkmaar 

Preview: West Ham United vs. AZ Alkmaar 

West Ham United and AZ Alkmaar continue their bid to win the Europa Conference League on Thursday when they square off in the first leg of their semi-final tie.

At a time when West Ham sit in 15th position in the Premier League standings, AZ occupy fourth place in the Eredivisie, two points adrift of Ajax.

Having recently suffered three straight defeats in the Premier League, David Moyes has come back under pressure at West Ham, yet the Scot restocked his credit in the bank at the weekend.

The Hammers posted a deserved 1-0 victory over Manchester United to move seven points clear of the relegation zone with three matches remaining, likely ensuring their survival in the top flight.

West Ham have also suffered just four defeats in 14 matches in all competitions, helped by extending their undefeated streak in Europe to 12 fixtures.

Gent pushed West Ham hard in the quarter-finals, leading 2-1 on aggregate at one stage before their opponents surged back, and such a comeback highlighted that Moyes possesses the strongest squad in the competition.

However, West Ham will need to have learned lessons from this time last year when they under-performed and lost out to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League semi-finals.

AZ Alkmaar are not exactly experiencing new ground in Europe – they reached the 1981 UEFA Cup final – but this represents their first time in a continental semi-final since featuring in the last four of the UEFA Cup in 2004-25.

Pascal Jansen must show as much priority to the Eredivisie as this competition with AZ just two points adrift of Europa League qualification and six ahead of fifth-placed Twente with three games left, one of which is against PSV Eindhoven.

Nevertheless, everyone associated with the Dutch outfit will view this as their best opportunity to win a European trophy with momentum very much on their side.

After stunning Lazio in the last 16, AZ overturned a 2-0 aggregate deficit to Anderlecht to eventually prevail on penalties, setting up a mouth-watering showdown with West Ham.

AZ have only faced English opponents twice in over 13 years, playing Manchester United in the Europa League group stages where they drew 0-0 at the AFAS Stadion before losing 4-0 at Old Trafford.

West Ham United Europa Conference League form:

West Ham United form (all competitions):

AZ Alkmaar Europa Conference League form:

AZ Alkmaar form (all competitions):

We say: West Ham United 1-1 AZ Alkmaar
While West Ham are the marginal favourites to earn a narrow lead from the first leg, AZ deserve plenty of respect ahead of this tie. On that note, we are backing the Dutch outfit to earn a share of the spoils at the London Stadium, leaving the tie finely poised ahead of the reverse fixture in the Netherlands.

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