Unai Emery benches ‘struggling’ defender as Youri Tielemans injury verdict dealt - Aston Villa predicted XI vs Olympiacos

Predicting Unai Emery’s Aston Villa lineup to take on Olympiacos in the semi-final first leg of the UEFA Europa Conference League.

Villa Park awaits a truly historic night as Aston Villa, gearing up for a first European semi-final in 42 years, play host to Greek giants Olympiacos this Thursday.

Unai Emery’s men, fresh from Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Chelsea in the Premier League, must now revert their focus to the UEFA Europa Conference League. A two-legged affair against this season’s fourth-best Greek team is all that stands between Villa and the final in Athens but it’ll be hard work to get there.

Making a strong start is so important, as reflected in the quarter-finals. Villa went into the second leg against Lille with a one-goal aggregate advantage and it proved vital as Les Dogues ran out 2-1 victors in the second leg, before a dramatic penalty shootout win earned Villa a spot in the last four.

Emiliano Martinez was the spot-kick-saving hero in that fixture but Emery will have to make do without his preferred goalkeeper. The World Cup winner picked up three yellow cards across the semi-final matches, prompting a one-match ban. He’s also picked up a hamstring strain, making him a doubt for the second leg in Athens.

Youri Tielemans is another with a recent injury as the Belgium international was forced off against Chelsea with a groin issue. Scans have since confirmed the problem isn’t serious but care must be taken to ensure it stays that way.

Including a verdict for Tielemans, the replacement for Martinez and a change of role for captain John McGinn, here’s the starting lineup we predict Emery will name for the first leg against Olympiacos.

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