Aston Villa have enjoyed an incredible start to the 2023/24 Premier League season, but have been unable to replicate this form so far in the UEFA Europa Conference League.

Following an opening day defeat away to Legia Warsaw, the Villains then took on Bosnian side HŠK Zrinjski - a match which they narrowly won 1-0 despite being well on top. These results see them bottom of their group going into tonight's game, though only goal difference splits the four sides currently - which makes this match all the more important.

Things will not come easy for Unai Emery's side, however, as they face a trip to AZ Alkmaar, who are currently second in the Eredivisie.  In fact, their opponents have lost just one game all season, which ironically came in the Conference League against HŠK Zrinjski.

Regardless of the result, the match will also see history made, as it will mark Villa's first ever meeting with the Dutch side. With all of this in mind, they will be very eager to win - which would massively improve their situation in their group.

  • Team news

AZ Alkmaar

The hosts will, regardless of form, need to navigate a number of absences to their squad going into this game.

Young forward Mayckel Lahdo will be absent through suspension, after being sent off in his side's last game in the competition.

Mees de Wit is also expected to miss the encounter, with a foot problem - while Sem Westerveld remains sidelined with a knee injury.

Aston Villa

Emery will also need to contend with numerous key absences as he prepares for what is a crucial European game.

Both Tyrone Mings and Emiliano Buendia will miss the game with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, with the duo expected to miss most, if not all, of the current season.

Their issues do not end there, though, as Alex Moreno is also ruled out through a hamstring issue, though the injury is not thought to be a long-term one for the Spanish fullback.

Jacob Ramsey also remains unavailable as he continues to recover from a foot issue, with no estimated date set for his return yet.

  • Likely line-ups

AZ Alkmaar

Ryan; Sugawara, Bazoer, Penetra, Wolfe; Clasie, Mijnans, De Wit*; Dantas, Pavlidis, Van Brederode

*Dani de Wit, not the aforementioned (and injured) Mees de Wit.

Aston Villa

Martinez; Konsa, Carlos, Torres, Digne; Cash, Kamara, Luiz, McGinn; Diaby, Watkins

  • Key players

AZ Alkmaar - Vangelis Pavlidis

24-year-old forward Vangelis Pavlidis has been absolutely instrumental in everything positive for AZ Alkmaar so far this season. The Greek star has already scored a staggering 13 goals in just nine league appearances so far this season - as well as notching up two goals involvements in two games in the Conference League too.

Having netted a hat-trick in his last game, there is no doubt that Pavlidis poses the main threat to an Aston Villa side who have conceded 13 (the 10th most in the Premier League) goals this season.

Aston Villa - Douglas Luiz

For a midfielder, Douglas Luiz's scoring record is truly something to behold. The Brazilian has netted five goals already this season, and scoring is not even the best part of his game!

The 25-year-old boasts an exceptional pass completion rate of 87%, as well as averaging more than a key pass per match. But he is not just great going forward or passing around the midfield, as he also averages almost 2.5 tackles per match and an impressive seven recoveries too.

Against a strong AZ Alkmaar side, in a hostile environment too, his performance is likely to be crucial for any success that Aston Villa may enjoy.

  • Match details

Where is the match being played? 

The match is being played at AZ Alkmaar's home stadium, the AFAS Stadium.

When is the match?

The match is being played today, Thursday 26th October and will kick-off at 17:45 GMT.

How can I watch?

For viewers in the United Kingdom, the game is being broadcast live on TNT Sports 2. Alternatively, highlights of the game will be posted to both clubs' YouTube channels shortly after full-time.

VAVEL UK will also bring the latest content from the fixture, with a match report and post-match reaction to come. 

About the author