Main Threats to Aston Villa in Europa Conference League
The Confusing Road to Greece
This week, UEFA officially confirmed that the Agia Sophia Stadium in Athens will be the location for the Europa Conference League final. However, it remains unclear who will be the main threats in Aston Villa’s path to Greece. The next few weeks will shed light on the status of a couple of major teams’ entry into the competition.
Juventus, who dropped from 4th to 7th place in Serie A after being deducted 10 points, lost their Champions League qualification and consequently found themselves in the Europa Conference League. Reports from Italy suggest that Juventus will accept a one-season ban from UEFA for European competition in the upcoming season.
Rather than contest the ban and risk delaying it until next season, potentially jeopardizing their Champions League chances, Juventus is willing to serve the ban in a season where their only participation would be in the Europa Conference League.
If this scenario unfolds, Fiorentina would take Juventus’s place in the Europa Conference League play-off round. This would be good news for Villa since Fiorentina has a lower coefficient rating than Villa (despite reaching the final last season). Consequently, Villa would join the seeded teams for the play-off draw.
Meanwhile, Osasuna from Spain has been banned from competing due to a UEFA investigation into historical match-fixing dating back a decade. However, the club has released a strong statement expressing their intention to legally challenge UEFA’s decision. While the appeal is underway, Athletic Bilbao will be on standby to replace Osasuna.
Villa has previously faced the Basque club twice in the UEFA Cup, making Athletic Bilbao a favorable substitute, as Villa supporters have fond memories of their fans.
Get Ready for Europe With the New Shirt
A Potential Bye for Villa into the Group Stages?
By August 7th, the play-off draw will take place, which should provide a clearer picture. If the appeal is not resolved by then, there is a possibility that Spain may not have a team in the competition. In that case, any team scheduled to play against the Spanish club in the play-offs would receive a bye into the group stages of the tournament.
Therefore, if Villa ends up seeded for the play-offs, they could potentially be the beneficiary of that bye.
Looking ahead, if Villa makes it to the group stages, they are highly likely to be in Pot 2 for the draw. Below is a mock-up of the potential draw pot situation.
It is confirmed that 2023/24 Europa Conference League final will be played at Agia Sophia Stadium in Athens, but who will play it?— UEFA Rankings (@UefaRankings) June 28, 2023
Juventus have the highest coefficient but, if suspended, it would become Eintracht Frankfurt. Still, plenty of other teams could reach Athens. pic.twitter.com/D22fXedDJq
Name Change of the Competition
In other news, this season’s Europa Conference League will be the last one under that name, as UEFA have stated that it will be named the UEFA Conference League, after it’s third edition for the 2024/25 season.