Time for Aston Villa to show everyone what they are made of!

Ollie Watkins
Ollie Watkins / Naomi Baker/GettyImages

Thursday night's defeat to Olympiacos in the first leg of the Europa Conference League semi-final was a frustrating one for Villa. However, that feeling of defeat has not be a frequent one for the fans and now the Villa team have the chance to show the fans and those from other clubs looking on that they have what it takes to compete in the Champions League next season.

It will take a monumental effort for this injury-hit Villa team to turn the tie around in Greece next week. A two-goal deficit is certainly a mountain to climb but Villa have shown on numerous occasions this season that they have the resilience to fight and come back when they have been written off.

Douglas Luiz
Aston Villa v Olympiacos FC: Semi-final First Leg - UEFA Europa Conference League 2023/24 / Visionhaus/GettyImages

The game at Villa Park was one that Villa didn't really have control of throughout. An early disallowed goal from Leon Bailey and a late penalty miss from Douglas Luiz summed up what a frustrating night it was and it will now be up to Villa to assert early dominance next week. Captain John McGinn shared his thoughts after the game:

"Not the game we wanted and we obviously wanted more control. We are of course going to take responsibility but it's up to us to go to Athens next week and turn it around because we know we are capable of."

John McGinn

The belief remains high in the Villa camp and there is no reason why that shouldn't be the case. Unai Emery and the team have shown this season how good they are at reacting positively from defeats and many of the fans remain confident that their team will still get the win needed to qualify for the final.

Meanwhile, attention turns back to the Premier League as Villa again face a crucial weekend. Qualification for the Champions League next season remains the objective and that could be confirmed with a win at Brighton followed by a loss for Spurs away to Liverpool.

Questions have been asked from the fans as to why Pau Torres didn't start in yesterday's defeat and I therefore believe it is inevitable that Emery will play his strongest side available at the Amex stadium on Sunday afternoon. Emi Martinez's fitness remains the biggest concern for Villa and he will face a late fitness test on Saturday to decide whether he will be able to play.

It was clear that the team have a very different feel to it with Robin Olsen in goal and fans were not given any more reason to have confidence in Olsen should Martinez be absent once more.

Ollie Watkins
Aston Villa v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League / Nathan Stirk/GettyImages

Aston Villa's recent record against Brighton is a good one, winning four of the last five league meetings between the two sides. The 6-1 win at Villa Park earlier in the season was one of Villa's best performances of the season and Ollie Watkins will be confident of being able to find the net and reaching the 20 goal mark following his hattrick in that emphatic victory in Gameweek 7.

Brighton have also hit a real rutt of form. Without a win in their last six which has seen four defeats has seen their season derail when many fans thought they would once again be challening the top six this year. Now is as good a time as any to be facing the Seagulls and Villa will be keen to make the most of that.

A win on Sunday, as I say, could confirm a top four spot and should that happen and Villa do manage to turn the tie against Olympiacos around next week, then people will be looking at Villa and believing that they would have a great chance of doing well in Europe next season. This will be the motivation for the players and we will hopefully continue to prove the doubters wrong.