Aston Villa set to put on a show as Emery seeks Europe’s bright lights | Ben Fisher

With a Conference League semi-final and Champions League qualification in sight, there is a sense of euphoria at Villa Park

Unai Emery took a deep breath, digested the question and delivered a considered response. Moments earlier, staff in Uefa clothing had hastily erected a Europa Conference League-branded backboard inside a nondescript room at Bodymoor Heath, Aston Villa’s training base, and for the manager the topic of conversation soon turned to their quest to qualify for the Champions League.

Has Emery been able, in the quieter moments of a congested schedule, to reflect on the strides his side have made in little more than 18 months, since he inherited a team outside the Premier League relegation zone on goals scored alone? “At the beginning of the season, to be where we are now, maybe it was the best we could have hoped for,” he says.

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