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Europa League | Group Stage
Nov 30, 2023 at 5.45pm UK
Gradski stadion
West Ham logo
Backa Topola
0 - 1
West Ham

Petrovic (45'), Calusic (63')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Soucek (89')
Fornals (55'), Palmieri (87')

Preview: Backa Topola vs. West Ham United - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Backa Topola and West Ham United, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Seeking to secure their spot in the Europa League knockout rounds, West Ham United travel to TSC Arena in Serbia to face Backa Topola in their penultimate Group A fixture on Thursday.

The two teams meet for the first time since the end of September when the Hammers claimed a 3-1 home win in the reverse fixture in East London.


Match preview

West Ham United's Tomas Soucek celebrates scoring their second goal on November 25, 2023© Reuters

November has been an enjoyable month for West Ham so far, as they have won four of their last five fixtures in all competitions, including each of their last three against Olympiacos, Nottingham Forest and Burnley.

The Hammers had to come from behind to beat Forest 3-2 in their final Premier League game before the international break, and they were required to do the same against Burnley on Saturday, with an 86th-minute own goal from Dara O'Shea followed by a 91st-minute strike from Tomas Soucek – his second match-winner in as many games – to seal a 2-1 success at Turf Moor.

Sitting ninth in the Premier League table, 15 points clear of the relegation zone and only three behind Newcastle United in sixth, West Ham are certainly looking up towards the right end of the top-flight standings, but they will now briefly shift their focus to Europa League action as they endeavour to claim top spot in Group A.

Nine group-stage points have been accumulated from a possible 12 available by David Moyes's men, who are aware that a victory in Serbia on Thursday will guarantee their place in the Europa League knockout rounds, although top spot cannot be secured until they face Freiburg – level on points at the summit – in their final group game in two weeks' time.

West Ham's impressive goalscoring form on the road bodes well ahead of Thursday's contest, as they have found the net in all 10 of their away fixtures in all competitions this season, although they have only won five of those and had lost three in succession before the win at Burnley.

TSC Backa Topola coach Zarko Lazetic on September 21, 2023© Reuters

Backa Topola's hopes of reaching the Europa League knockout rounds are over, as they sit eight points adrift of both West Ham and Freiburg in the top two of Group A with just two games remaining.

TSC are one of only six teams in this season's Europa League who have failed to win any of their first four group-stage matches, instead losing three and picking up their only point in a 2-2 home draw with Olympiacos on matchday two.

Zarko Lazetic's side unsurprisingly sit rock bottom of Group A, but they still have a chance of finishing above Olympiacos in third, which would see them drop down into the Europa Conference League playoffs, as they only sit three points behind the Greek outfit, who they will face in Serbia in their final group game.

Backa Topola suffered a heavy 5-0 away defeat to Freiburg in their most recent Europa League match before losing 2-1 at home to Vojvodina in the Serbian SuperLiga, but they returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion last weekend as they surprisingly beat Partizan Belgrade 4-0 on the road, condemning the league leaders to their first defeat of the campaign.

Many teams would welcome a return to home soil, but Lazetic's men enter Thursday's contest having failed to win any of their last five matches at the TSC Arena, conceding 10 goals in the process.

Backa Topola Europa League form:


Backa Topola form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W

West Ham United Europa League form:


West Ham United form (all competitions):



Team News

West Ham United's Jarrod Bowen celebrates scoring their third goal on November 1, 2023© Reuters

Backa Topola boss Lazetic will likely stick with a 5-3-2 formation, with Milos Cvetkovic potentially starting ahead of Jovan Vlalukin at right-back, joining Josip Calusic, Nemanja Stojic, Goran Antonic and Nemanja Petrovic in the back five.

Milan Radin, who scored in the win over Partizan last weekend, could be joined in centre-midfield by Ifet Djakovac and Petar Stanic, while Sasa Jovanovic will be pushing for a recall up front alongside Uros Milovanovic.

As for West Ham, Jarrod Bowen will be assessed ahead of kickoff after missing last weekend's win at Burnley with a knee problem, while Michail Antonio remains sidelined with a knee injury of his own.

Lukas Fabianski has been the Hammers' Europa League goalkeeper this season, and the 37-year-old is expected to replace Alphonse Areola between the sticks on Thursday, while summer signing Konstantinos Mavropanos could replace either Kurt Zouma or Nayef Aguerd at centre-back if Moyes opts to freshen up his backline.

The potential absence of Bowen for a second successive game could see Danny Ings handed another start up front, with Mohammed Kudus operating out wide, although academy graduate Divin Mubama will be pushing to start after making a notable impact off the substitutes' bench against Burnley.


Backa Topola possible starting lineup:
Ilic; Cvetkovic, Antonic, Stojic, Calusic, Petrovic; Radin, Djakovac, Stanic; Jovanovic, Milovanovic

West Ham United possible starting lineup:
Fabianski; Coufal, Mavropanos, Aguerd, Cresswell; Alvarez, Ward-Prowse; Kudus, Paqueta, Benrahma; Ings


SM words green background

We say: Backa Topola 1-3 West Ham United

Backa Topola's comfortable win over Partizan last weekend has given them a much-needed confidence boost ahead of Thursday's clash, but coming out on top against an in-form West Ham side will be a tall order.

The Hammers, who had to come from behind to beat TSC in the reverse fixture, cannot take the hosts lightly, but they should have enough strength in depth to claim maximum points in Serbia.



For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.


Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data


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How you voted: Backa Topola vs West Ham

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Draw
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West Ham United
74.0%
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West Ham United's Declan Rice pictured on August 15, 2021
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Group A

TeamPWDLPTS
QWest Ham650115
QFreiburg640212
3Olympiacos62137
4Backa Topola60151

Group B

TeamPWDLPTS
QBrighton641113
QMarseille632111
3Ajax61235
4AEK Athens61144

Group C

TeamPWDLPTS
QRangers632111
QSparta Prague631210
3Betis63039
4Aris Limassol61144

Group D

TeamPWDLPTS
QAtalanta642014
QSporting Lisbon632111
3Sturm Graz61144
4Rakow61144

Group E

TeamPWDLPTS
QLiverpool640212
QToulouse632111
3Union SG62228
4LASK61053

Group F

TeamPWDLPTS
QVillarreal641113
QRennes640212
3M. Haifa61235
4Panathinaikos61144

Group G

TeamPWDLPTS
QSlavia Prague650115
QRoma641113
3Servette61235
4Sheriff Tiraspol60151

Group H

TeamPWDLPTS
QB. Leverkusen660018
QQarabag631210
3Molde62137
4Hacken60060

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