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Preview: Legia Warsaw vs. Aston Villa: lineups, team news, and predictions

Written by Jonathan O’Shea | 1d

The undefeated Aston Villa team will advance in the Europa Conference League on Thursday night when Legia Warsaw visits Villa Park with the goal of securing their own spot in the knockout stage.


A win or a draw in their penultimate Group E match will guarantee a spot in the playoffs for both teams, but a victory might send one of them directly to the round of 16.


Aston Villa defeated AZ Alkmaar 2-1 in their most recent European match to complete a hat-trick over their Dutch rivals and move closer to securing a 2024 continental competition stint.


The Premier League team’s Group E campaign took a knock after losing in Warsaw. However, they bounced back from the setback with a thrilling victory against Zrinjski at home and two consecutive victories against AZ: a commanding 4-1 triumph in Alkmaar and a much closer match at Villa Park.


The Villans were sufficiently rattled to respond after Vangelis Pavlidis had given their guests the lead early in the second half, and goals from Diego Carlos and the ever-dependable Ollie Watkins of England sealed the maximum points. Therefore, should they win this week and Zrinsjki fail to upset AZ, Unai Emery’s team will be assured of a spot in the top two.


To ensure that everything was in order before their last match in Bosnia and avoid the possibility of having to play in a playoff to go to the round of 16, Villa would need to win by two goals or more to guarantee first place. This would continue Villa’s upward trajectory under UEFA competition specialist Emery.

They surged into the Premier League’s top four after winning their match on Sunday against fellow top-five candidates Tottenham Hotspur, when goals from Watkins and Pau Torres overcame a one-goal deficit. They have now lost just one of their previous ten games across all competitions.


With eight victories in that span, the team has proven that they are acclimating to life at the top. After establishing Villa Park as a stronghold over the previous few months, they now welcome their primary competitors for Group E supremacy to Birmingham.

Due in part to Ernest Muci’s brace, Legia Warsaw defeated Aston Villa 3-2 at home on the first matchday, and since then, they have amassed six more points and are currently leading the group based on their head-to-head record against the English team.



Legia will be assured of a spot in the top two if they avoid defeat this week, even if they lose and AZ fails to defeat the Bosnians. Legia defeated Zrinjski earlier this month.


But defeating Villa would guarantee Kosta Runjaic’s team the top slot, with the added benefit of avoiding a showdown with one of the eight Europa League elimination teams and advancing straight to the Conference League’s round of 16.


After a concerning run of five losses in six games, the Legionisci have bounced back and will visit Villa Park with a five-game winning streak. They have also kept no fewer than four clean sheets throughout this run.


The only occasion their defense has been weakened in November was during Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Warta Poznan, when Josue and Muci came in handy to rescue the side from a two-goal deficit that entered first-half stoppage time.


Legia, currently sixth in the Ekstraklasa, is unlikely to return to the Polish title fight this season, but if they can overcome the opposition in Group F, either on Thursday or in the final matchup at home against AZ the following month, a deep run in European competition may be in the works.

Possible starting lineup for Aston Villa: McGinn, Kamara, Tielemans, Bailey; Diaby, Watkins; Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Torres, Digne


Starting lineup candidates for Legia Warsaw may be Tobiasz, Pankov, Jedrzejczyk, Kapuadi, Wszolek, Slisz, Elitim, Kun, Josue, Muci, and Pekhart.



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