Hearts vs Aston Villa: The Europa Conference Showdown
At A Glance:
|Previous Meetings||Hibs 1-2 Villa, Villa 3-1 Hibs|
TV Viewing Options:
|Sky Sports||7:45 PM|
|BT Sport||7:45 PM|
The Stage is Set at Easter Road
Manager Lee Johnson is rallying his Hibs troops, emphasising their “individual brilliance” as they prepare to face a formidable Aston Villa team, widely tipped as favourites for the Europa Conference League crown.
The Underdogs’ Spirit
Hibs, having navigated two gruelling qualifying rounds, are ready to prove their mettle. Johnson expressed the team’s anticipation, stating, “You can feel that buzz. This is where we want to be, who we want to be competing against.” He believes this is a golden chance for Hibs to elevate their club’s stature on the European stage.
While acknowledging the challenge ahead, Johnson remains optimistic. “We’ve got pace, we’ve got goals in us. We’ve got to be really confident in our attributes while being respectful of Aston Villa’s strengths,” he remarked.
A Nostalgic Return
The first leg will be particularly poignant for Villa’s captain, John McGinn. The Scotland midfielder, who previously clinched the Scottish Cup with Hibs and played a pivotal role in their ascent to the top tier, will be making an emotional return to Easter Road. Johnson acknowledged McGinn’s contributions but emphasised the team’s focus on the game at hand.
Emery’s European Vision
On the other side, Unai Emery, Villa’s manager, draws motivation from Villa’s illustrious 1982 European Cup victory. Emery, with a rich European pedigree, including four Europa League titles, is eager to etch a new chapter in Villa’s history. “Of course we want to write a new history now, doing it our way,” he expressed.
Hibs: Midfielder Jake Doyle-Hayes might make a comeback after missing two games due to injury. Dylan Vente is also expected to be fit, while Dylan Levitt remains sidelined.
Aston Villa: Nicolo Zaniolo, the star midfielder who clinched the inaugural Europa Conference League with Roma, is poised to make his debut for Villa.