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Match Preview: Aston Villa v Hibernian - Rotation incoming against managerless Hibs?

Villa are sitting on a 5-0 lead for Thursday’s European second leg against Hibs. Here’s everything you need to know prior to kick-off at Villa Park!

Hibernian v Aston Villa - UEFA Conference League Qualifying Play-Offs: First Leg Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The build-up

Aston Villa welcome Hibernian to Villa Park on Thursday in the second leg of the UEFA Europa Conference League (UECL) playoff. It’s fair to say Unai Emery’s men are in a good position. Last week’s clash between the sides saw Villa pounce on the Scottish side, ending in a 5-0 thrashing. Can the Hibees tame the roaring lion?

For sure it is going to take something very, very special for Hibs to turn this tie around, but this is football, and I guess we never know. However, Emery will have something to say about that, and will surely not give Hibernian a sniff of a huge European upset.

But let’s not underestimate the opposition. After sacking Lee Johnson on Sunday, the players will be looking to impress any potential managerial candidates. They will be treating this as an audition for the short-term future of their career at the club. We expect to be hosting a lively and hungry Hibernian following which could, but should not, influence the outcome of the game.

Villa will not change their style of football and will respect the opposition as they did in the opening leg. Emery will be looking for four successive wins on Thursday night.

The Villans cruised to victory on Sunday, beating Burnley 3-1 away from home. We saw Villa set up with a back five, with Cash and Digne clearly showing off their attacking attributes. Matty Cash scored a first-half brace, with Digne getting another assist, which follows his hat-trick of assists in the first leg at Easter Road. It’s a reasonable shout to suggest we will not see the same side set out at Villa Park on Thursday, with a shake-up in the starting XI predicted.

Hibernian did not share the same joy over the weekend after they were on the end of a 3-2 loss against Livingston. Even if they did hold the majority of the ball and created more chances, it was enough to bring Johnson’s time at Hibernian to an end. How sad.

Hibernian v Aston Villa - UEFA Conference League Qualifying Play-Offs: First Leg Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group via Getty Images

Team News

Villa, of course, will remain without Tyrone Mings and Emiliano Buendia who both continue to early stages of their long recoveries from their ACL injuries. Emi Martinez missed the trip to Turf Moor after suffering a calf problem in the first half of last week’s win against Hibernian, but looks likely to be available for Thursday, although Robin Olsen may start again anyway. Nicolo Zaniolo, who looked bright in his debut as a substitute against Burnley, is cup-tied until the group stage and so will miss out.

Philippe Coutinho was brought off against Everton with what looked to be a thigh problem, however, the Brazilian may have played his last minutes in a Villa strip after being linked to Qatar champions, Al Duhail. Jacob Ramsey and Leander Dendoncker remain out until after the September international break, with Alex Moreno out of action until at least September 3. Midfielder, Tim Iroegbunam is out with an unspecified issue.

The visitors could be without Dylan Levitt as he missed the first leg and also was not included in the squad for the Livingston game on Saturday. Jordan Obita will be looking for three starts in a row and will be looking to bounce back after scoring an OG in the Livingston match. Former Villa man Jake Doyle-Hayes is in contention to start. Veteran goalkeeper, David Marshall, was brought off against Livingston after suffering an injury, therefore he may be out for the trip to Villa Park.

Hibernian v Aston Villa - UEFA Europa Conference League - Play Offs - First Leg - Easter Road Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images

Likely Lineups

Aston Villa

Martinez; Cash, Chambers, Torres, Digne; Tielemans, Luiz, McGinn; Traoré, Bailey; Durán


Boruc; Miller, Fish, Hanlon, Obita; Doyle-Hayes, Newell, Levitt; Le Fondre, Vente, Boyle

Score Prediction

Villa to win this one by three goals to nil. Even potentially without top players such as Boubacar Kamara and Ollie Watkins starting the game, I believe that Emery’s winning mentality will mean we will not be suddenly adopting a conservative style of football. Hibernian are going to be up for it, as they try to avoid the aggregate score becoming increasingly embarrassing, with the fans looking to bring a top atmosphere to Villa Park. But as we saw in the first leg, we’re just too strong for them.

Prediction: Aston Villa 3-0 Hibernian