Legia Warsaw vs Aston VillaUEFA Europa League Conference, KO: 17:45 Sep 21, 2023, Polish Army Stadium
ASTON VILLA are the early favourites to win this season's Europa Conference League and they will be looking to lay down a marker when they travel to Poland for a clash with Legia Warsaw in the opening group game.
Most firms make the English side just 4/1 to go all the way and that short price is probably down to the fact they have Unai Emery in the dugout, a man who led Sevilla to Europa League glory three times then lifted the same trophy with Villarreal.
A brutal 8-0 aggregate win over Hibs in the play-off round also suggested Villa have what it takes to get their hands on the silverware and I was glad they stopped at 3-0 in the second leg as it brought up a full house of tips for me.
Emery's side have also made a decent start to the new Premier League campaign, with Saturday's dramatic 3-1 triumph over Crystal Palace making it three wins from five games so far.
The Spaniard looks to have made some shrewd signings over the summer and having a deeper squad will be important as Aston Villa look to juggle domestic and European commitments for the first time in 13 years.
With AZ Alkmaar and Zrinjski Mostar also in the group, Emery's side will be expected to top the section but they will have to brave a hostile crowd in Warsaw on opening night.
Legia Warsaw had to settle for second place in the Polish top flight last term as Rakow Częstochowa were crowned as kings for the first time. But they have started the new campaign well, going unbeaten in their domestic games while negotiating three tricky qualifiers to reach the Conference League group stage.
Kazakh side Ordabasy presented a tough first hurdle but Legia made it through 5-4 on aggregate before seeing off Austria Vienna in another thriller as a 5-3 win on the road sealed a 6-5 victory over two legs.
Legia Warsaw were underdogs going in their play-off with Danish side Midtjylland but dug deep once more to progress on penalties after a rollercoaster tie that ended 4-4 on aggregate. Those results prove that Legia have spirit in abundance so Aston Villa can't turn up just expecting a win in what could be another dramatic night in Warsaw.
How the bookies view it
Aston Villa are heavy favourites at a best 11/20 with QuinnBet while Legia Warsaw are as big as 11/2 with 888Sport and the stalemate pays 7/2 at BetUK.
Head to head
These sides have never played each other in a competitive game but Legia Warsaw faced English opposition when they were last in group stage action in the Europa League two years ago. Those clashes with Leicester City will serve as a warning to Aston Villa as the Foxes lost 1-0 in Poland before winning 3-1 in the return.
Players to watch
Albanian international Ernest Muci has been in good form for Legia Warsaw this season, with five goals from 12 appearances. He could cause Villa a few problems and is as big as 4/1 with VBet for anytime scorer.
Backing Jhon Duran for a goal in the second leg against Hibs paid off for me and the Colombian could start again here after a brilliant strike off the bench started the comeback against Crystal Palace. The youngster is 2/1 at Bet365 for anytime scorer.
Anything else catch the eye?
Legia Warsaw's results in Europa Conference League qualifying suggest we're in for a thriller here, although the Poles may be tempted to sit back and defend against superior opposition.
But I've a feeling they will have a go and that makes BTTS worth a look at 17/20 with William Hill while over 2.5 goals is a bit shorter at 4/5 with Bet365. Combining those picks in a bet builder takes you to 5/4 with Bet365.
The atmosphere will be fiery and that could lead to a few tackles flying in. Veteran Legia Warsaw defender Artur Jedrzejczyk has four yellows and a red to his name already this season and is 11/5 at Bet365 for another card here.
This UEFA Europa League Conference match between Legia Warsaw and Aston Villa will be played on Sep 21, 2023 and kick off at 17:45. Check below for our tipsters best Legia Warsaw vs Aston Villa prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.