Aston Villa lineup vs Legia Warsaw: Our top three – Aston Villa take on Legia Warsaw away from home in the UEFA Europa Conference League on Thursday evening in what is their first taste of European competition for over a decade.
The Villans have a rich history in Europe, dating back to the 1980s where they won the UEFA Super Cup against FC Barcelona, and competing regularly in the UEFA Cup (as it was called back then) in the 1990s, with their last appearance coming in the 2008/09 season.
Current Aston Villa stats – Free-scoring Villans
Villa come into the game after an inspired late comeback against Crystal Palace in the Premier League over the weekend, winning 3-1 with two goals coming deep into stoppage time.
Unai Emery's side are free-scoring, with 19 goals coming in their opening seven matches in all competitions, including an 8-0 aggregate thumping of Hibernian in Conference League qualifiers.
They have been leaky at the back on hostile turf though, conceding nine times already on the road, and will have to be careful in Poland.
Aston Villa lineup vs Legia – Our top three
Diaby has lit up Villa Park since signing this summer, with two goals and two assists in five top-flight appearances. The explosive forward carries a real threat, and has shone in European competitions before – recording 22 goal contributions for Bayer Leverkusen.
If Villa were to win a penalty in Warsaw, look no further than Luiz to take it. The Brazilian has taken duties off of Ollie Watkins this campaign – and has scored three from three so far.
Luiz also offers other qualities on the pitch, as the midfielder won more duels (10) and tackles (six) than any other Villa player against Palace, while also achieving a 100% long ball accuracy.
Cash, a Polish international, will be able to offer insight into some of his international team-mates, such as Bartosz Slisz and Pawel Wszolek, who both play for Legia.
On the pitch, he offers a substantial attacking threat from right-back, given the licence to bomb forward by Emery as three centre-halves stay back in possession. Cash has already scored three goals in all competitions this season.
The Final Word
Villa have never met Legia before, but should expect a stern test against their opponents. The Wojskowi have lost just one of 13 matches in all competitions this term, and are unbeaten in their last seven.
However, the gulf in class between playing in the Premier League and the Polish top-flight should give the Villans the edge, and their free-scoring ability will give them confidence that they can find the back of the net fairly comfortably.
Although this is the first time for him managing the Midlands-based side in Europe, Emery is a genius of European competition, having won the UEFA Europa League four times with two different clubs.
The Spaniard will be looking at players with established European pedigree in his squad, like Diaby, to help guide his team to victory on Thursday, in what could promise to be a memorable opening night for the Villa faithful.