West Ham United have avoided a nightmare Europa Conference League qualifier against Serie A side Fiorentina after top seeding.
The Hammers missed out on a second consecutive season in the Europa League when they lost to Brighton on the final day last season.
So David Moyes’ side must make do with the Europa Conference League instead.
West Ham fully embraced and loved every minute of their European adventure last season which took them all the way to the semi-finals.
A ‘gutted’ Declan Rice declared after the heartbreak against Eintracht Frankfurt that he and his West Ham teammates ‘want more’ European football.
So too do West Ham’s fans.
West Ham must now play a two-legged qualifier next month in order to make the Europa Conference League group stage proper.
The play-off round features 10 teams with the draw taking place next Tuesday, August 2, at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland at 1pm UK time.
The first and second legs will be played on August 18th and 25th.
The Conference League may be designed predominantly to give some minnows from vastly inferior leagues a taste of European football.
But there will be some big hitters in there from the top leagues too as last season’s semi-finals and final – between Roma and Feyenoord – proved.
Not that West Ham can afford to be picky given we have not won a major trophy since 1980.
West Ham avoid nightmare Europa Conference League qualifier against Fiorentina after top seeding
West Ham will initially be drawn against two sides who will battle it out over the next two weeks for the right to face them. So Moyes and the boys will not know exactly who they will face until Thursday August 11th.
But they do know who they won’t be facing and it will come as a big relief.
Because West Ham have avoided a nightmare Europa Conference League qualifier against Fiorentina after the Italian side’s top seeding.
And that has made big news in Italy where avoiding West Ham has been seen as a major boost to La Viola (Football Italia).
“Fiorentina will be top seeds in the draw for the Europa Conference League play-offs, allowing them to avoid Gianluca Scamacca’s West Ham United,” Football Italia report.
Of course West Ham would have no reason to fear Fiorentina given the level of opposition they face in the Premier League.
But playing the seventh best side in Serie A would clearly not be Moyes’ wish at the qualifying stage.
La Viola needed Astana of Kazakhstan to be out of the way for them to secure the status of top seeds in the draw and they got their wish today, as Astana fell to Polish club Rakow.
West Ham avoid nightmare Europa Conference League qualifier: but now what?
That means Fiorentina will not be paired against clubs like West Ham, FC Koln and OGC Nice.
Besides West Ham – on paper at least – Fiorentina and Villarreal are the strongest sides in the qualifying mix.
The draw will be split into two parts, the ‘Champions Path’, and the ‘Main Path’. The majority of sides, including West Ham, will be playing in the Main Path.
West Ham are one of four teams from the Main Path who are guaranteed to be on the seeded side of the draw, alongside Spanish side Villarreal, the loser of Partizan Belgrade’s Europa League qualifier against either AEK Larnaca or Midtjylland, and the winner of Zorya Luhansk’s Conference League play-off with either Vllaznia or Universitatea Craiova.
Now all eyes turn to the draw next Tuesday – and Moyes will be mightily relieved with Fiorentina being top seeds.
West Ham will have to make do without Declan Rice for both legs of the qualifier as he serves a two-game ban while Moyes will also be missing for the first leg as he serves a one-game ban.