Hibernian vs Aston VillaUEFA Europa League Conference, KO: 17:45 Aug 23, 2023, Easter Road
HIBERNIAN have switched from agony to ecstasy and back every couple of days since the new season began so it promises to be an emotional rollercoaster as they square up to Aston Villa in the UEFA Europa Conference League play-offs.
Lee Johnson's side started the campaign with a humiliating defeat to Inter Club d'Escaldes in Andorra but made amends by smashing six past the minnows back at Easter Road.
And while the Hibees upped their game to see off Swiss side Luzern in the next round, those two good European performances came after dismal domestic defeats to St Mirren and Motherwell.
Hibs failed to convince again at the weekend as they edged out Championship Raith Rovers at home in the League Cup last 16, with the 2-1 win bringing up one of my weekend super singles.
Fans will be hoping returning to the European stage can spark Hibernian back to life but they will need to up their game dramatically to stand any chance of shocking Aston Villa.
The new campaign also started on a sour note for Unai Emery's side as they were demolished 5-1 by Newcastle and lost key defender Tyrone Mings to a bad knee injury. But Villa roared back on Sunday by thumping Everton 4-0 to bring up both of Slips Tips' recommended bets.
Aston Villa were one of the form teams in England at the end of last term, winning 10 of their last 15 games, and if they hit anywhere near top form then it's hard to see the shaky Hibernian defence being able to cope.
How the bookies view it
Hibernian have been written off and are as big as 20/1 at Bet365 to qualify while the same firm have them a hefty 10/1 for a win at Easter Road. Aston Villa are 1/16 to reach the group stage at McBookie while the same firm price them at 2/7 for a victory in Leith. A stalemate in the first leg pays 9/2 with most firms.
Head to head
These sides have never faced off in a competitive game before and it's Aston Villa's first European tie against a Scottish team. But Hibernian have been involved in four battles of Britain, losing twice on aggregate to both Liverpool and Leeds. The last of those clashes was in 1975 and Hibs can take a little heart from the fact they beat Liverpool 1-0 at Easter Road before losing 3-1 in the Anfield return.
Players to watch
Hibernian spent big in the summer to sign Dutch striker Dylan Vente and are already getting plenty of bang for their buck with two goals in four appearances. He scored at Easter Road against Luzern and is 5/1 with Bet365 for a memorable goal against Villa.
After just two Premier League games, I'd be surprised if Emery rested a lot of his big hitters for the trip north. Moussa Diaby looks a shrewd signing already and the former Leverkusen star is 29/20 at Unibet for his second goal of the season.
Anything else catch the eye?
It will be an emotional night for John McGinn as the Aston Villa captain returns to his old club. The Scotland star was sensational in the weekend win over Everton and it might be worth backing him for an assist once that market is priced up. McGinn will be involved in a battle with Hibs midfielder Joe Newell and it could pay to back either of them for cards. The Aston Villa ace is 3/1 at Bet365 to fall foul of the ref while Newell, who has two yellows already this season, is 21/10 with the same firm.
Going for total cards could also be worthwhile as it can often get out of hand in a Battle of Britain. Paddy Power price over 5.5 cards at 9/5 while the same firm are offering 11/4 on a red card being flashed. Both teams play with speedy wingers so that could lead to plenty of corners. Paddy Power have the best price again in this market with over 10.5 corners at 23/20.
Defending has been the biggest problem for Hibs so far this season and they've yet to keep a clean sheet. We should see a few goals in this one and over 3.5 strikes is 6/4 at Betfair while Paddy Power price over 1.5 first-half goals at 11/8.
This UEFA Europa League Conference match between Hibernian and Aston Villa will be played on Aug 23, 2023 and kick off at 17:45. Check below for our tipsters best Hibernian vs Aston Villa prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.