Aston Villa’s Group E Draw
Aston Villa were drawn in Group E of the Europa Conference League to face Holland’s AZ Alkmaar, Poland’s Legia Warszawa, and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Zrinjski. MOMS has previously visited all three of Villa’s upcoming destinations and in terms of away days it’s a pretty decent selection of destinations.
AZ Alkmaar will potentially be Villa’s main threat to win the group. In the past five seasons they have finished between 2nd and 5th in the Dutch Eredivisie, including two runners-up spots. They were also semi-finalists in last season’s Europa Conference League. A half-hour drive north of Amsterdam, it will certainly provide a popular destination for an away day.
Legia Warszawa were Polish champions in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons and runners-up last season, and are widely regarded historically as Poland’s top team. Nowadays, the reputation (bad and good) of the Warsaw club’s ultras is probably more far-reaching than the team’s efforts on the pitch. For the right European home fixture, they normally bring an “Ultra Extreme Fanatical Atmosphere” (see what they’ve done there with ‘UEFA’), including some impress tifo displays.
Meanwhile, the away game against Zrinjski from Bosnia and Herzegovina, based in Mostar, will perhaps provide the most intriguing and scenic setting. Like near-by Sarajevo, Mostar is an intriguing fusion of cultures and architecture. Exemplified by contrast of the iconic Stari Most Bridge, a rather random Bruce Lee statute, and of course, the visible scars of the Yugoslav Wars.
Group Stage Match Dates
Villa will now have six Thursday fixtures until the end of the year, meaning that six of their Saturday fixtures are guaranteed to be moved to a Sunday (or Monday).
Villa’s full fixture schedule:
Matchday 1: Legia Warszawa v Aston Villa – Thursday, September 21 (ko 5.45pm BST)
Matchday 2: Aston Villa v HŠK Zrinjski – Thursday, October 5 (ko 8pm BST)
Matchday 3: AZ Alkmaar v Aston Villa – Thursday, October 26 (ko 5.45pm BST)
Matchday 4: Aston Villa v AZ Alkmaar – Thursday, November 9 (ko 8pm BST)
Matchday 5: Aston Villa v Legia Warszawa – Thursday, November 30 (ko 8pm BST)
Matchday 6: HŠK Zrinjski v Aston Villa – Thursday, December 14 (ko 5.45pm BST)
Unai Emery will no doubt be looking to win the group and avoid a second place finish, as the runners-up in the group will face an additional two-legged knock-out round against a team that drops out of the Europa League.