West Ham have made the perfect start to life in the Europa League this season, winning their opening two fixtures without conceding a goal.
David Moyes’ side followed up the 2-0 away win over Dinamo Zagreb with victory at home to Rapid Wien by the same scoreline earlier this week, putting the Hammers in complete control of Group H.
Such an impressive start has led to the likes of SkyBet placing the Hammers as 11/1 favourites to go on and lift the trophy in Seville next May, ahead of the likes of Lyon, Bayer Leverkusen, Napoli, Real Betis and Lazio.
It’s only early days in the competition with group games still to be played, but this is pretty much unchartered territory for a club that has become used to mediocrity and struggles over the last few decades, until David Moyes returned to the club in December 2019. Since then, it’s been an upward journey.
But despite the bookies favouring the Hammers for European glory so far, the notorious predictions website, Five Thirty Eight, have used their sophisticated forecasting algorithm to look a bit deeper into each team’s chances of winning the Europa League this season.
They also take into account the clubs who are most likely to drop out of the Champions League and into UEFA’s second-tier competition after the group stages have concluded, and it’s this that throws the competition wide open.
Having lost both of their opening Champions League group matches, Barcelona currently sit rock-bottom of Group E and are therefore currently likely to be one of the most unlikely teams to be competing in the Europa League knock-out stages this season, which automatically puts them in as favourites to win the competition, according to Five Thirty Eight’s algorithm.
What is interesting, though, is that West Ham aren’t too far behind in those projections. The website gives the Hammers a 44% chance of reaching the quarter-finals, a 23% chance of qualifying for the semi-finals and an 11% chance of reaching the final. According to Five Thirty Eight, West Ham’s chances of winning the competition currently stands at 5%.
That’s probably 5% more chance the fans gave the club before a ball had even been kicked and, given they’ve still only given Barcelona an 8% chance of lifting the trophy – most likely because they could still qualify from their Champions League group and avoid the Europa League altogether – it just shows how strong West Ham are perceived to be in this competition.