Thursday, May 23, 2024

Olympiacos 2-0 Aston Villa: What Were The Key Talking Points As Villa Suffer Europa Conference League Heartbreak?

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Always facing a real Europa Conference League struggle on Thursday night, Aston Villa suffered semi-final heartbreak in Greece as they slumped to a 2-0 loss at the hands of Olympiacos.

Shockingly blown away ay Villa Park last week as they were hit with an action-packed 4-2 defeat, Unai Emery’s men failed to produce what would have been an iconic comeback at the Karaiskakis Stadium.

Ayoub El Kaabi – who scored a stunning first-leg brace at Villa Park last week – opened the scoring after just 10 minutes in Piraeus and sent the home support into overdrive.

With Unai Emery’s men failing to find any kind of fluidity in the final third, the Premier League outfit were eventually officially put to the sword as the red-hot El Kaabi bagged his second of the night late on.

Although Villa might have been desperate to get their hands on a first piece of European silverware since 1982, Thursday’s guests have now lost all of their last three appearances across all competitions.

As for Olympiacos, storming their way to a famous 6-2 aggregate romp over the past week, the Greek giants will now meet Fiorentina in this season’s showpiece event on May 29th.

On a night when Aston Villa watched their Europa Conference League dreams go up in smoke, we have taken a look at the main talking points from the Karaiskakis Stadium.

Olympiacos collect a heavyweight scalp

Although Olympiacos might be seeking a minor miracle in their bid to claim a history-making 48th domestic crown this season, Jose Mendilibar’s men have embarked on a remarkable European romp.

Eventually breezing past the Champions League chasers over the past week and making a major statement of intent thanks to their 6-2 aggregate romp, Thursday’s hosts are now unbeaten in all of their previous nine appearances across all competitions.

Springing another iconic upset last month as they sent Turkish giants Fenerbahce packing, the former Sevilla boss is now just 90 minutes away from guiding Olympiacos to a maiden piece of European silverware.

Finding a major clinical edge in the final third and recording 24 goals on their nine-match purple patch, Mendilibar’s side will also feel that they have a hometown advantage later in the month.

This season’s Europa Conference League final will be played at the home of Olympiacos’ bitter domestic rivals AEK Athens which is located just 12 miles away from Piraeus.

Villa miss out on a golden opportunity

While Aston Villa might be inching their way towards what will be a famous Champions League ticket this season, Emery’s men do have the feel of a squad limping their way over the finishing line.

Opening their Europa Conference League semi-final adventure last week tipped as a leading contender to get their hands on a first piece of European silverware since 1982, Villa could take some time to recover from a real phycological blow here.

Although the former Arsenal boss might have received a string of plaudits for the job he has undertaken at Villa Park this season, Thursday’s guests have lost all of their previous three appearances across all competitions by an aggregate score of 7-3.

Failing to pick up any kind of momentum last weekend as they suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of an inconsistent Brighton, Villa have also claimed just a single win within 90 minutes from any of their previous six outings.

Likewise, recording just a sole clean sheet since back on March 30th, Emery’s downbeat squad will face a quick turnaround when they welcome Liverpool to the Midlands on Monday night.

El Kaabi extends on his European romp

While El Kaabi might have only arrived at the Greek giants last summer on a free transfer from Qatari-based outfit Al Sadd, the Morocco international has enjoyed a remarkable start to life in Piraeus.

Bagging an astonishing first-leg hat-trick at Villa Park last week and continuing to spearhead Olympiacos’ charge for the history books, Mendilibar’s attacking talisman was once again at his clinical best here.

Bagging a classy brace on either side of the half-time break and remarkably registering five goals in his consecutive showdowns against Aston Villa over the past week, El Kaabi finds his stock at a red-hot high.

Now recording 10 Europa Conference League goals in just his eight appearances this season, the 30-year-old is reportedly attracting some heavyweight interest ahead of the summer transfer window.

Putting Villa to the sword here and leading the chase to claim Greece’s Golden Boot this season, El Kaabi will have a leading role to play when Olympiacos meet Fiorentina on May 29th.

Match Report

Olympiacos: Tzolakis, Rodinei, Restos, Carmo, Quini, Hezze, Iborra, Fortounis, Chiquinho, Podence, El Kaabi

Subs: Horta, Masouras, Apostolopoulos

Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Carlos, Torres, Digne, Diaby, Luiz, McGinn, Bailey, Watkins

Subs: Duran, Kesler-Hayden, Kellyman, Munroe, Iroegbunam

Goals: El Kaabi (10’, 78’)

Yellow Cards: Olympiacos: Podence, Quini, Rodinei – Aston Villa: Luiz, Duran, Iroegunam

Red Cards: N/A

Referee: Stefan Lupp

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom has spent the past six years as one of our senior writers and betting experts. Alongside working with numerous publications from across the globe, Tom also graduated from the University of Falmouth in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Digital Media.
Spending almost the past decade working in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, he has also spent time featuring in sports radio. Tom can be followed on Instagram - @iamtomdunstan

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