Europa League: What to Know About West Ham’s EL opponents Genk

West Ham United fans' Europa League (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
West Ham United fans' Europa League (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) /

Matchdays 3 and 4 of this season’s Europa League group stage will pit together West Ham and Belgian Cup winners Genk. In what could be a fascinating pair of fixtures, here is a preview as to what could happen in these ties.

It has been contrasting fortunes for both clubs over their last 5 respective fixtures, with the Hammers winning 4 of 5 in all competitions – a loss at home to Brentford being the only blip. Meanwhile, it has been the exact reverse for the Genkies, who can only look to a 3-0 win over promoted Seraing in the Belgian Pro League for any recent success.

As for Group H, David Moyes’ Londoners are a perfect 2 for 2 so far, with comfortable wins against Dinamo Zagreb and more recently against Rapid Wien. The Smurfs have 3 out of a possible 6, with a Paul Onuachu 90th minute winner at Rapid Wien and a disappointing performance in their 3-0 reverse to Dinamo Zagreb.

A pair of wins in these fixtures for the Irons would guarantee progression in the competition while Limburg-based Genk will hope to get back on the right track to continue in the Europa League past the new year.

West Ham and Genk Team News

As for team news, Ryan Fredericks and Alex Kral are out for the Hammers, while popular Czech duo Vladimir Coufal and Thomas Soucek are questionable – the latter recovering from a nasty kick to the head during the weekend win over Everton. Mark Noble is also a doubt.

As for Genk, only fullback Daniel Muñoz is out; the Colombian serving a suspension following his straight red on Matchday 2. Simon Juklerod is also out still nursing an injury – outside of that – it’s basically a full-strength side for John van den Brom to choose from.

Players to keep an eye on in this Europa League clash

Finally, some players to look out for from the Belgians the big man in the Smurfs team is Paul Onuachu. He was the Golden Boot winner in Belgium last season, the Nigerian finding the back of the net 29 times.

That has seen several clubs across Europe, the Hammers included, who are interested in getting his signature soon. He will be the focal point of the Genk attack and will be crucial in them finding the back of the net.

Wingers Theo Bongonda and Junya Ito will also be important to pay attention to. The latter signed a new contract a few days, tying him to Limburg until 2024.

Although neither have scored in Europe so far, it was Ito who found Onuachu for the only goal in their Matchday 1 tie in Wien. If either or both of them can hit the ground running in these matches, great things could happen for Genk.

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Tonight’s match in London will allow us to see just how serious both teams are about progressing and even going far in this season’s competition. If both teams play at their best throughout the two matches a fortnight apart, we could be in for a real treat.