After a surprise first-leg defeat at Villa Park, Unai Emery needs something akin to a miracle in the Europa Conference League semi-finals. Look ahead to the second leg with our Olympiakos vs Aston Villa prediction and preview.

Olympiakos vs Aston Villa Stats: The Quick Hits

  • Villa are considered most likely to win this match by the Opta supercomputer, though they’re given just a 16% chance of reaching the final.
  • Olympiakos are on the brink of reaching the first major European final in their entire history.
  • Olympiakos are the top-scoring side in the knockout stage of the Europa Conference League with 16 goals.

Match Preview

Aston Villa require something special if they are to avoid elimination from the Europa Conference League at the semi-final stage as they travel to Greece facing an uphill battle in the second leg against Olympiakos.

José Luis Mendilibar’s side stunned their hosts at Villa Park in the first leg last week, winning 4-2 at the end of a gripping encounter.

Two well-taken goals courtesy of Ayoub El Kaabi had Olympiakos 2-0 up at half-time, and although Villa managed to draw level thanks to Ollie Watkins and Moussa Diaby, the Greek club took charge of the tie again. El Kaabi completed his hat-trick from the spot after Douglas Luiz – who later missed a penalty of his own – handled in the box, and Santiago Hezze’s deflected strike from long range rounded off a commendable victory.

Europa Conference League predictions

It was Villa’s first home loss in Europe this season and just the second instance in their history of losing the first leg of a European knockout tie by a margin greater than one goal after a 4-1 loss to Royal Antwerp in the 1975-76 UEFA Cup. It leaves them facing the prospect of exiting a competition many expected them to go on to win.

Should Olympiakos do the business and hold off a Villa comeback, then they will reach the final of a major European competition for the first time ever, with bitter rivals Panathinaikos the only Greek club to previously achieve this (1970-71 European Cup vs Ajax).

Progression to the final would be similarly significant for Villa, especially given the context of the two-goal deficit, though it wouldn’t be a first as they reached the 1981-82 European Cup showpiece at beat Bayern Munich 1-0.

Villa will be just the second English club to be eliminated in the knockout stages of a major European competition by a Greek side if Olympiakos seal their fate.

While many will still regard Unai Emery’s Villa as favourites to win the match, the first leg highlighted the attacking threat Olympiakos carry, even if one of their goals was a penalty and another benefited from a hefty deflection.

After all, Olympiakos have scored 16 goals in the Europa Conference League knockouts this season, more than anyone else, and the first leg was the third occasion of them scoring four or more goals in Europe this season (including once in the Europa League group stage).

El Kaabi has, of course, contributed greatly. His eight Europa Conference League goals isn’t bettered by anyone else this season, while he’s scored more times (11) in major European competitions than any other player in 2023-24 when his three Europa League strikes are taken into account.

Ayoub El Kaabi European goals

Villa will hope they also have a striker who can make the difference.

Watkins got their first goal in the first leg, taking him to five for the season in this competition. If he scores one more, he will set a new club record for most goals scored in major European competitions in a single campaign.

Villa could be boosted by the returns of Emiliano Martínez, Youri Tielemans and Nicolo Zaniolo for Thursday, though Morgan Rogers looks likely to miss out due to the hamstring strain suffered in the weekend defeat to Brighton. Jacob Ramsey, Tyrone Mings, Emi Buendía and Boubacar Kamara are all out until next season.

Mendilibar should be able to welcome Giorgios Masouras and Andreas Ntoi back for Thursday’s game after they served suspensions in the first leg.

Olympiakos vs Aston Villa Head-to-Head

Last week’s clash was the first-ever competitive meeting between Olympiakos and Aston Villa; the latter had also never faced any other Greek side before that frustrating defeat.

Nevertheless, Olympiakos have faced English sides quite often over the years.

The only other English club they’ve knocked out of a major European competition were Arsenal in last 16 of the Europa League.

But they have now won three of their last four matches against teams from England, including a 2-1 home victory over West Ham in the group stage of the Europa League earlier this season.

Recent Form

After the first-leg loss, Aston Villa have lost two games in a row in the Conference League for the first time; the last time they lost consecutive matches within a single season in major European competitions was December 2008 in the UEFA Cup, and the only time they lost more in a row across different seasons was in 1983 (3).

Olympiakos, meanwhile, are the top scorers in the Europa Conference League knockouts and last scored 4+ goals in more than three European games in a single season way back in their 2008-09 UEFA Cup campaign.

They lost 1-0 in the second leg of their quarter-final duel with Fenerbahce, though they still progressed on penalties. Otherwise, Olympiakos were last beaten on 31 March when defeated 1-0 by AEK Athens in the Greek Super League.

Villa’s form has been somewhat more erratic in recent weeks. They’ve lost three of their past five games in all competitions, including the 2-1 loss at Lille prior to success on penalties.

They were beaten 1-0 at Brighton on Sunday, which was the first time they’ve not scored since losing 4-0 at home to Tottenham on 10 March.

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.

Olympiakos vs Aston Villa Prediction

Olympiakos vs Aston Villa prediction

The Opta supercomputer rates Villa as the favourites for this match, with Emery’s men winning inside 90 minutes in 44.7% of the 10,000 pre-match simulations.

That’s considerably higher than Olympiakos’ 30.3% and the draw at 25.0%. However, the hosts know they’ve a significant cushion with a two-goal aggregate advantage.

As such, Villa are massive outsiders to progress from the tie. Ahead of the first leg, the Opta supercomputer gave them an 80% chance of reaching the final; now, that’s just 16%, with Olympiakos reaching the showpiece in 84% of the tournament simulations.

Olympiakos are now considered the favourites to go all the way, doing so in 35% of the latest sims. Villa do so in just 9%, way behind Fiorentina (34%) and Club Brugge (23%).

Olympiakos vs Aston Villa UECL Squads

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

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

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