Aston Villa have enjoyed a sensational rise up the Premier League table in recent months and manager Unai Emery is on the verge of securing European qualification for the first time in over a decade.
This is a remarkable achievement for the West Midlands club who were promoted through the Championship play-offs as recently as 2019.
It is even more impressive when taking into account Villa’s league form at the start of the season and the Spainard inherited an Aston Villa side in November that were struggling at the bottom of the league table with just nine points from their opening 12 games.
Aston Villa are just one win away from a European adventure next season and fans will undoubtedly have great memories of their incredible Champions League triumph back in 1982.
But what do Aston Villa need to do in the final game of the season to return to the European stage and how could the added strain of extra fixtures affect the club next season?
Here is everything you need to know.
What do Aston Villa need to do to qualify for Europe?
Aston Villa are in pole position to earn a place in the Europa Conference League this season and they enter the final game of the campaign with 58 points from 37 games.
Unai Emery’s side's final game takes place at Villa Park and they host high flying Brighton who narrowly pipped them to sixth spot and a place in the Europa League.The Villains can guarantee their place in Europe next season with a victory over Brighton as they enter the game with a one point advantage over Tottenham and a two point advantage over Brentford.
Tottenham and Brentford are also competing for the final European spot next season and both will be aiming to win their games to pile pressure on Emery and his team.Tottenham enter the final game of the season as firm favourites to overcome relegation threatened Leeds but they can expect to face a difficult atmosphere at Elland Road as Sam Allardyce pushes for a great escape.
Brentford meanwhile face the unenviable task of hosting Premier League champions Manchester City who have won 12 of their last 13 top-flight matches.
Tottenham will secure European football if they better Aston Villa’s result as the two teams both enter the final game of the season with the same goal difference. Brentford can also qualify for a European competition for the first time in their history if they beat Manchester City and Tottenham and Aston Villa both fail to win.
The Bees enter the final game of the season with a vastly superior goal difference ahead of their Premier League finale.
When did Aston Villa last qualify for a European competition?
Aston Villa last competed in Europe during the 2010/11 season as a result of their sixth place finish the previous season.
However, their run in the Europa League was short-lived and they were beaten in the play-off rounds by Rapid Vienna before the group stage started. This was a huge disappointment for Martin O’Neill’s team and it was the second successive defeat to the Austrian club at that stage of the competition.
Aston Villa were last involved in the group stage of the Europa League in 2008/09 and they successfully navigated their way to the knockout stage of the competition before exiting to CSKA Moscow.
Aston Villa’s finest moment in Europe came in 1982 when they were crowned the winners of the European Cup after a narrow 1-0 victory over Bayern Munich.
The Villains reached the quarter-finals of the competition in the following season but they have not competed in Europe’s elite competition since 1983.
How will Europa Conference League Football affect Aston Villa?
Aston Villa are likely to need a great deal of squad depth if they do qualify for the Europa Conference League next season as they will face the added strain of playing six extra games in between top-flight matches.
This could extend to a further seven matches if they are to progress to the final of the competition.
West Ham United are a recent example of this and their position in the league has suffered as a result of fixture congestion with the club falling to 14th in the league table.
However, there are also a number of benefits to playing in Europe such as increased sponsorship, TV money and the potential for Aston Villa to lift their first trophy since 1996.
A victory in the Europa Conference League would also earn Aston Villa an automatic place in the Europa League the following season.