After qualifying for the next stage of the UEFA Europa League with a 2-0 win in Vienna back on 25 November, European nights return for West Ham United and it is a tough test up next, as they travel to Spain to take on La Liga side Sevilla tonight for the first-leg of their round of 16 tie.
The Hammers won four out of their six group games having been top of Group H since winning their opening game against GNK Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia on 16 September.
It would have been a perfect run to this stage but for two disappointments along the way. These being a 2-2 draw in Belgium against KRC Genk after David Moyes had seen his side come from behind to lead and their only defeat came as a result of qualifying with a game to spare when the Scotsman named a largely inexperienced side against GNK Dinamo Zagreb in Stratford.
The East Londoners will also be hoping to atone for recent back-to-back defeats. The loss at Anfield on Saturday was preceded by them being knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup by fellow Premier League side Southampton eight days ago.
Before West Ham began their European exploits, many of their fans wondered how they would cope and although they have done better than expected so far, they will be aware that Sevilla are well-experienced at getting to the latter stages of this competition as they won it for three consecutive years from the 2013/14 campaign. It will be a hard task for the Irons, but if they could knock them out, then it will be seen as a significant string to their bow.
Nikola Vlašić may be in line for a second consecutive start here, as he filled in for the absent Declan Rice at the weekend and Moyes may think that it will be worth giving the Croatian another chance although the England international may return to action, following his recent illness.
Mark Noble, Alex Král, Manuel Lanzini and Saïd Benrahma are all in contention for starts, while Arthur Masuaku travelled to Merseyside five days ago and could be involved in first-team action for the first time since the 3-2 victory at Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day. Alphonse Areola started in goal at St Mary’s in the FA Cup defeat and he is set to feature for the second time in eight days tonight.
Jarrod Bowen suffered an achilles injury against the Reds on Saturday and although he won’t feature here, the diagnosis is that it isn’t as bad as first feared.
Youngsters Ajibola Alese, Armstrong Oko-Flex, Sonny Perkins, Dan Chesters and Pierre Ekwah Elimby are some of the youngsters that Moyes might include in the matchday squad.
The match is a 5:45pm kick-off with live coverage being screened by BT Sport from 5pm. The referee is Sandro Schärer.