We welcome back European football, in the form of the UEFA Europa Conference League, and Villa’s first opponents have now been confirmed.
After a summer of trying to crack the UEFA enigma of which team we might face off, Hibernian’s victory over Luzern sets up Villa’s first foray into European competition since 2010/11. Hibs ran out 5-3 winners on aggregate against the Swiss side, to progress from their third qualifying game.
Villa will now need to defeat the SPL side over a two-legged playoff in order to progress to the Europa Conference League group stages.
Hibs have struggled in their opening league fixtures and were described as ‘woeful’ domestically this season, but have impressed in the two games against Luzern. After securing a shot at European football and having watched West Ham’s exploits, this is not the time for Villa to be complacent.
The tie also sets up a reunion for the Scottish side’s former midfielder, John McGinn. McGinn, widely considered one of the best value signings of Villa’s modern era, joined during the turbulent Steve Bruce period for just £2 million. The Scotland captain has been a prominent and likable figure as the club first navigated itself from the Championship and subsequently re-established itself in the Premier League.Embed from Getty Images
The game also sees the return of pantomime manager Lee Johnson, who supporters will remember from his days perpetually crying at Bristol City. Johnson, for whom there was little love lost during his time at The Robins, never recovered from a 5-0 thumping at B6.
Johnson has already cited his concerns about the proximity of the upcoming fixture with Villa, particularly given early season criticism following consecutive defeats to Motherwell and St. Mirren.Embed from Getty Images
The first leg will take place at Easter Road on Wednesday, August 23rd with a kick-off time of 5:45pm. The unusually early kick-off time is dictated by UEFA rules, with the reason being to avoid clashes with Champions League coverage. There will be 1,078 tickets available for traveling supporters that carry significant eligibility criteria to secure.
The reverse fixture will of course take place at Villa Park a week later on Thursday, August 31, albeit with a later kick-off time of 8pm.Embed from Getty Images