David Moyes has said West Ham will not fear Barcelona in the Europa League as they have already beaten the reigning European champions this season.
The Hammers left the group stage of the competition when a youth team fell to Dinamo Zagreb (1-0).
With West Ham already qualifying for the last 16 as a Group H winner and injuries starting to bite, Moyes sent five of the club’s academy players early on and made his debut two more off the bench.
But the Scotsman is hoping his side – which beat Champions League winner Chelsea on Saturday, weeks after sinking 2019 champions Liverpool – will be back to full force when competition resumes in March with Barca, Porto. and Sevilla among their potential opponents.
âWe have a lot of big teams to play, but I think we’re a big team right now,â Moyes said.
âA lot of teams will be worried about playing us. We hope we’ll be fit and in good shape when these games come around.
âLook, the names of the competition make it really tough. The teams that drop out (from the Champions League) tend to be the teams that make it to the final.
“But if we can face the Champions League finalists and the Champions League winners in recent weeks, I think we’ll give them a good game.”
West Ham fell in the third minute from a goal from Croatian dangerman Mislav Orsic, but it was still a night to remember for the club’s academy.
The final four set were made up of youngsters with Jamal Baptiste, 18, alongside Aji Alese, 20, Manny Longelo and Harrison Ashby.
On offense, 17-year-old Sonny Perkins – who was 196 days old when Mark Noble made his Hammers debut – has lined up for the same team as the club’s longtime captain.
Two other debutants, Freddie Potts – the son of former Hammers skipper Steve – and Keenan Forson were introduced late in the second half.
“I think the young players did really well and recovered from a goal very early,” added Moyes.
âI think it was a tough game for them. Ideally, we wouldn’t have played five of them at once, but we were slightly constrained to do so. But they all acquitted themselves well.
“Sometimes you could see the youth, they weren’t always making the right choices, but I think you could see that some of them could become first team players.”