So what does a dead rubber match in a UEFA’s third tier competition look like? Ok, how about one where it is the top side in the grouping table going up against the bottom side? Is this (not hypothetical, but very real) match more or less meaningful than a friendly staged overseas, for marketing and corporate purposes, in the summer?
These are good questions, and you can find your way towards reaching the answers on Thursday night when West Ham United visit Romania.
They’ll visit FCSB in a match that barely qualifies as true UEFA continental competition. If you’re still reading this, well, hey congratulations, you’ve won a prize- an opportunity to read the match preview, which you can find over at this link!
Well, West Ham United have the opportunity to do something here that no English club has never done before- achieve a perfect UEFA Europa Conference League stage.
Sure, this competition, which no one asked for, is only in its second season, but somebody has to be first at accomplishing this, right?
Maybe the Hammers can win this competition, which would give them their first European trophy since the 1964-65 European Cup Winners Cup. The Hammers last trophy, of any sort, came in 1980-81, won they did a domestic double.
The Irons claimed the League Cup and the title in the second tier Championship division.
The previous season, they won the third of their three FA Cups, so indeed they were rolling back then. And they’re rolling right now too, with a 16-5 goal difference in the UECL thus far (when you include the playoff qualification round). This comes on the heels of a very strong Europa League showing last season, when they made it all the way to the semifinals.
Maybe this year, David Moyes can finally get them over the hump and end the silverware drought?
So he has something to prove here too.
Paul M. Banks is the Owner/Manager of The Sports Bank and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”Follow paulmbanks