Aston Villa vs Olympiakos: Unai Emery still prioritises Premier League despite run in Conference League

Aston Villa players John McGinn and Ollie Watkins joke during training
Aston Villa are aiming to win their first European silverware since 1982

Aston Villa manager Unai Emery says securing a place in the top four in the Premier League remains the priority but there is no question this will distract his team from their first European major semi-final in 42 years.

Villa have had a transformative season under Spaniard Emery and could qualify for the Champions League this weekend if Tottenham lose to Chelsea on Thursday.

On the same evening, Villa hosted Greek side Olympiacos in the first leg of the Europa Conference League semi-final.

“We are very excited about the Conference League and very motivated about the Premier League,” said Emery.

“It doesn’t change my first message when we started the season: the most important thing is the Premier League, then we can add the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Conference League.

“If we come to the end of the season as a contender, the importance of course changes a little bit.

“The first priority is the Premier League, but we are trying to do the best in both.”

Villa have not played in a continental semi-final since winning the European Cup in 1982 and are the last remaining English team in European competition this season.

Emery won the Europa League four times during his spells at Sevilla and Villarreal, while also leading Arsenal to the final of the same competition.

The 52-year-old boss says his wealth of experience does not guarantee success at Villa, but knows that “football can only be won”.

“When I arrived here, my first goal was to come to Europe. We put in a lot of effort and we have the Europa Conference League. We enjoyed it,” Emery said.

Villa will be without suspended goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, while midfielder Youri Tielemans and defender Alex Moreno are injured.


Aston Villa

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 25Olsen
  • 2Cash
  • 4Konsa
  • 17Lengle
  • 12Worth
  • 7McGinn
  • 6Douglas Luiz
  • 31Bailey
  • 19Diaby
  • 27Rogers
  • 11Watkins


  • 3Diego Carlos
  • 14P Torres
  • 18Gauci
  • 22Zaniolo
  • 24Duran
  • 29Kesler Hayden
  • 47Irogbunam
  • 64Wright
  • 69Munroe
  • 71Kellyman
  • 72Young


Formation 4-3-3

  • 88Tzolakis
  • 23the Almeida
  • 45Retso’s
  • 16Mota Veiga Teixeira do Carmo
  • 3Ortega
  • 32Hezz
  • 8Iborra de la Fuente
  • 6Lima Silva Machado
  • 56Podence
  • 9El Kaabi
  • 7Fortounis


  • 1Paschalakis
  • 5Luz Horta
  • 11El Arabi
  • 15Alexandropoulos
  • 18Marin Ruiz
  • 20Carvalho
  • 22Jovetic
  • 27Richards
  • 70Precate
  • 99Papadoudis