The Europa League is returning this week, with the likes of Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund involved in Europe’s secondary club competition.
However, one team who won’t be involved is West Ham – arguably the standout story of this season’s tournament so far.
The Irons topped Group H at the back end of 2021, winning four out of their six games and only losing once, to group runners-up Dinamo Zagreb.
Why isn’t West Ham playing in the Europa League in February?
As always, the second stage of the Europa League welcomes the teams knocked out in third place of their Champions League groups.
However, this year’s edition of the Europa League has seen a slight change in the format of the competition.
The eight teams who dropped down from the Champions League were drawn against the eight runners-up from the Europa League group stage.
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It works out as good news for West Ham fans, who see their team head straight into the round of 16, courtesy of topping their group.
In recent years, all remaining teams would compete in a round of 32, but the rule change sees all group leaders effectively earn a bye into the second knockout round.
Which teams are in the Europa League playoff round?
The first knockout round sees plenty of exciting matchups, with the Champions League dropouts being unseeded (and so playing away in the second leg) against the 2021/22 Europa League veterans.
The fixtures are:
- Barcelona vs. Napoli
- RB Leipzig vs. Real Sociedad
- Sevilla vs. Dinamo Zagreb
- FC Porto vs. Lazio
- Zenit St. Petersburg vs. Real Betis
- Borussia Dortmund vs. Rangers
- Atalanta vs. Olympiacos
- Sheriff Tiraspol vs. Braga
Which teams are in the Europa League round of 16?
West Ham will be joined in the hat by:
- Spartak Moscow
- Eintracht Frankfurt
- Red Star Belgrade
- Bayer Leverkusen
When is the Europa League round of 16 draw and matchday?
For West Ham, they’ll have to wait until 7:00am ET on February 25 to learn who they will face in the round of 16.
Those ties will take place on March 10, with the return leg just a week later.
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What is West Ham’s Europa League form?
The Hammers have had a promising season to date across the board, with their Europa League performances being a particular high point.
After a brilliant 2020/21 campaign under David Moyes, which saw West Ham finish sixth in the Premier League (their second-best finish ever) they were drawn into Group H with Genk, Dinamo Zagreb and Rapid Vienna.
The East London outfit started in imperious form, winning their first three games comfortably, with a combined score of 7-0 which saw them top the group early on.
They lost their winning streak against Genk on the road, but followed it up with an away win against Rapid Vienna to confirm top spot.
A largely-rotated side faced Dinamo Zagreb in their final group game, as they lost 1-0 in what was essentially a dead rubber.
What is West Ham’s best European season?
West Ham’s successes in Europe have been few and far between, especially in recent times.
But they have had some glory, and fans will be hopeful this is the season to write some new history for the club.
They’ve reached three European Finals in their history, winning two and losing one.
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The Irons’ first final was in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, which was a competition that saw the holders of the domestic cups (in West Ham’s case, the FA Cup) compete annually.
West Ham beat 1860 Munich 2-0 in the final at Wembley in 1965, as Sir Bobby Moore led his troops to a famous night. They then lost out in the final of the same competition in 1976, 4-2 to Anderlecht.
They then triumphed in the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 1999. The tournament was discontinued in 2008.
Harry Redknapp’s team, littered with future stars such as Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand, beat Metz 1-0 in the final to qualify for the following season’s UEFA Cup.