Buidling Dreams Together


Aston Villa Aiming to Reach first European Quarter-Final Since 1998

Unai Emery’s Aston Villa will be pursuing a first European quarter-final since 1998, when they take on Ajax in the second leg of their UEFA Conference League tie.

Emery to go on another European run?

Villa last reached the quarter-final of the UEFA Cup, now called the Europa League, where they were beaten by Atletico Madrid.

Last week’s 0-0 draw in Amsterdam left it all to play for tonight, in front of a bouncing Villa park. In my review of that match, I mentioned how impressive Villa’s record at home is this season and Emery has reinforced this point, with his quotes from Aston Villa’s X account:

“It’s very, very, important.

“The supporters are excited and motivated, like me, and like the players, to be in Europe.

“We have to try to connect with them, transmitting their energy.”

He spoke about the importance of winning a European trophy, something he has achieved four times through winning the Europa League. Winning it three times with Sevilla in consecutive seasons and Villarreal in 2021. He will be desperate to add Aston Villa to this list,

“Europe is prestige. It is a way for a trophy and Europe is adding another objective in our season. It is very important for the players, the club, myself. We are doing a very big effort to get it.

“This year we are progressively getting better in Europe because we started off by losing in Warsaw. Now is a key moment and a key opportunity to play thinking we can beat Ajax and get something important.”

WARSAW, POLAND – MAY 27: Unai Emery, coach of Sevilla kisses the trophy after the UEFA Europa League Final match between FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and FC Sevilla on May 27, 2015 in Warsaw, Poland. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Emery also confirmed midfielder Jacob Ramsey won’t be available for the tie, after missing their last two games after hobbling off against Luton. Ezri Konsa will be suspended due to his red card in the first leg.

Right-back Matty Cash spoke about quickly moving on from the disappointment against Tottenham. Quotes from Aston Villa’s X account:

“Personally for us, we want to put things right. The first game away at Ajax was a tough game, and on the back of a tough defeat on the weekend as well, Thursday is the perfect time to bounce back.”

Ajax the underdogs?

Ajax will be looking to repeat their fortunes from the previous round where they drew against Bodo/Glimt in the first leg, only to go and win away in the second.

Interim Head Coach John van ‘t Schip has called on his players to “play their own game” as they prepare for the match, “Aston Villa lost badly last weekend, so they have something to set right,” Van ‘t Schip continued. “But we just need to play our own game and fight. We’ll need to fight as hard as we can, stay disciplined, and hope for a few breakouts.”

BIRMINGHAM – Ajax during Ajax’s MD-1 training prior to the return in the eighth finals of the Conference league against Aston Villa at Villa Park on March 13, 2024 in Birmingham, England. ANP OLAF KRAAK (Photo by ANP via Getty Images)

He reinforced that Ajax don’t need to be drawn into the ‘hectic game’ on Thursday. “Then the lines get pulled too far from each other. We need to be patient and try to keep ball possession for as long as possible.”

Perhaps the distraction of a European tie will be beneficial for them, after only winning one out of their last six in the league. While they go into the game as underdogs, there is a huge chance to raise the profile of another young and exciting Ajax team.

Midfielder Tristan Gooijer will also be suspended due to his red card in the previous tie.

Where to watch it

The game will be available to watch in the UK on TNT Sports 2 and Discovery+.

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