Can Unai Emery win yet another European trophy? We look ahead to this UEFA Europa Conference League semi-final first leg with our Aston Villa vs Olympiakos prediction and preview.

Aston Villa vs Olympiakos Stats: The Quick Hits

  • The Opta supercomputer makes Aston Villa heavy favourites to win the first leg of this UEFA Europa Conference League semi-final, doing so in 69.4% of simulations.
  • John McGinn has six goal involvements in this season’s tournament (3 goals, 3 assists).
  • This will be the first ever competitive meeting between the teams, and Villa’s first game against any Greek opposition.

Match Preview

It’s been some season for Aston Villa. In the driving seat for UEFA Champions League qualification in the Premier League, manager Unai Emery has recently signed a new contract, and they’re in the semi-finals of a major European competition.

The Opta supercomputer makes Villa the favourites to win the Europa Conference League, with Emery’s side going all the way in 47% of its simulations. They could follow another Premier League side, West Ham, in lifting the relatively new trophy next month, with David Moyes’ men going all the way last season.

Conference League Opta predictor

Standing in their way at the last-four stage are Olympiakos, who will come up against an English opponent for the 10th time in the knockout stage of a major European competition, having progressed just once from the previous nine occasions (vs Arsenal in the 2019-20 Europa League last 32).

Olympiakos have reached the semi-finals of a major European competition for the first time in the club’s history. They could become only the second Greek side to reach the final of any major European tournament, after Panathinaikos in the 1970-71 European Cup (lost to Ajax).

There won’t be much more experience on the other side of the pitch, with it being only Aston Villa’s second major European semi-final, after the 1981-82 European Cup when they went on to win what remains their only major European trophy.

Villa have been very strong on home soil this season, particularly in Europe, so will fancy their chances in the first leg. Emery’s men have won all five home games in the 2023-24 Europa Conference League. They have also scored in each of their last 19 home games in major European competition since a 1-0 defeat against Deportivo La Coruña in the 1993-94 UEFA Cup last 32. The last English side to have a run of more games was Manchester City between 2016 and 2021 (27).

José Luis Mendilibar’s side have been banging the goals in too. Excluding qualifiers, Olympiakos have hit 23 goals in 12 games in the Europa League and Conference League combined this season (1.9 per game on average), at least five goals more than they have ever scored in a single European campaign (18 goals in the 2008-09 UEFA Cup).

John McGinn could be the key man for Villa, having recorded six goal involvements in the Europa Conference League this season (3 goals, 3 assists), the most of any Villa player. The Scotland international had a hand in two of their three goals over the two legs of their quarter-final against Lille last month (1 goal, 1 assist).

John McGinn UECL goal involvements

Emery’s side will need to keep an eye on Konstantinos Fortounis, who has provided eight assists in the Europa League and Conference League this season for Olympiakos, the most of any player in major European competition this term. The last player to provide as many assists in a single European campaign was James Milner for Liverpool in the 2017-18 Champions League (8).

Ayoub El Kaabi can’t be ignored either. The Moroccan has scored eight goals in major European competition this season, the most in Europe in a season by an Olympiakos player in their history.

Villa will be without goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez through suspension for the first leg, following his penalty shootout antics against Lille that saw him booked again after also receiving a yellow card prior to penalties in the game. The Argentine likely would have been absent anyway after suffering an injury in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea, while Youri Tielemans is a doubt after also going off in that game.

As for the visitors’s team news, they will be without Giorgos Masouras and Andreas Ntoi through suspension.

Aston Villa vs Olympiakos Head-to-Head

This will be the first meeting between Aston Villa and Olympiakos in European competition, as well as the first-ever competitive game for Villa against any Greek opponent.

Recent Form

Aston Villa come into this game having lost just once in their last six games in all competitions (W3 D2), which was in the second leg of their quarter-final in Lille when they were beaten 2-1 in 90 minutes before winning on penalties. They drew 2-2 with Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday, despite having led 2-0 at half-time at Villa Park.

Villa reached the semi-finals after winning 4-3 in the shootout following a 3-3 aggregate draw. Olympiakos, too, won on spot-kicks, beating Fenerbahce 3-2 in the shootout after drawing 3-3 on aggregate over their two legs.

The 1-0 loss in the away leg against the Turkish side is Olympiakos’ only defeat in their last seven games in all competitions (W5 D1). They beat Lamia 4-1 at home on Sunday in the Greek Super League.

Opta Power Rankings

The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.

Ahead of kick-off on Thursday night, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.

Aston Villa vs Olympiakos Prediction

The Opta supercomputer is a big fan of Aston Villa’s chances, giving the Premier League side a strong 69.4% chance of taking a first-leg lead over to Piraeus.

A draw would be a good outcome for Olympiakos, which happened in 17.2% of the supercomputer’s 10,000 simulations, and they were able to pull of a first-leg victory in 13.4% of them.

Villa v Olympiakos Opta prediction

Aston Villa vs Olympiakos UECL Squads

Aston Villa: Emiliano Martínez, Joe Gauci, Robin Olsen, Matty Cash, Diego Carlos, Ezri Konsa, Lucas Digne, Pau Torres, Álex Moreno, Clément Lenglet, Douglas Luiz, John McGinn, Youri Tielemans, Jacob Ramsey, Tim Iroegbunam, Boubacar Kamara, Omari Kellyman, Ollie Watkins, Moussa Diaby, Nicolo Zaniolò, Jhon Durán, Morgan Rogers, Leon Bailey

Head Coach: Unai Emery

Olympiakos: Alexandros Paschalakis, Kostas Tzolakis, Francisco Ortega, David Carmo, Quini, Rodinei, Omar Richards, Panagiotis Retsos, Andreas Ntoi, Mady Camara, André Horta, Chiquinho, Vicente Iborra, Sotiris Alexandropoulos, João Carvalho, Santiago Hezze, Daniel Podence, Kostas Fortounis, Ayoub El Kaabi, Youssef El-Arabi, Giorgos Masouras, Stevan Jovetić

Head Coach: José Luis Mendilibar

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