AZ Alkmaar vs Aston Villa: How difficult a test is Unai Emery expecting against the Dutch side?

Unai Emery has been at Aston Villa for about a year and the Premier League club has seen a lot of transformation during this period.

Unai Emery in a file photo; Credit: Twitter/@ChampionsLeague
By Karthik Raman | Oct 26, 2023 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Aston Villa face a tricky away test against AZ Alkmaar in the Europa Conference League group stage contest. Even though Villa might be the favourites on paper, Alkmaar cannot be underestimated, especially in their own backyard. It is never easy to play away from home and it becomes extra harder in European competition, something Unai Emery is very much aware of. Hence, Villa must be at their 100% to get something out of the contest.

Unai Emery has been at Aston Villa for about a year and the Premier League club has seen a lot of transformation during this period. Elaborating on it, Emery, quoted by the club’s website, said, “Of course, I am very happy with the work we did and very proud of our one year here trying to connect with our fans, trying to get another step ahead in our objectives and playing in Europe like we are now. But, of course, there’s still a lot of work to do.”

He added: “My idea is to be demanding myself as a coach. When I started 20 years ago being a coach, my objectives were always trying to learn, to improve and to get better every day. And they’re still the same objectives for myself, everybody around me, the club, fans, players, coaches, everyone working at Aston Villa as well. I want to share with them my objectives and hard work to get it.”

Unai Emery on Legia Warszawa

Aston Villa started this Europa Conference League campaign with a 3-2 loss to Legia Warszawa. Asked about what he learned from that experience, Emery said, “Europe is always very difficult. We have to respect every team, respect every competition. In the Europa Conference League, teams are there because they deserve to be there and they can dream as well to do something against teams like we are, Aston Villa – Premier League teams, very good players, history. The first step we have to do is try to understand this competition, to understand the difficulty of this competition.”

He added: “Playing against Legia Warszawa was a very good example, 40-50,000 supporters following them, being one player more for them in the stadium and they were very excited playing against us because for them as well it was a very good opportunity to show they deserve it. And they did. We lost and of course we had the possibility to change the way we started, and we won in the last minute against Zrinjski, that’s the example for us, for everybody how difficult it is playing in Europe.”

The Aston Villa manager feels it will be equally difficult against Alkmaar in the coming match. He also went on to recall his experience of facing them in the past. “Tomorrow is the same. AZ Alkmaar, I played against them in 2012 in the Europa League and we lost here with Valencia. I remember it. Last year they played the semi-final against West Ham and they were very close to winning against them. I know if we want to do something important in this competition we have to really want to do it, and really show it. And tomorrow is a really good opportunity to try to play in our best capacity, our skills as players and being very focused in 90 minutes. That is the idea,” he stated.

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