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Villa still prioritising top-four finish over Europe

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Aston Villa are aiming to win their first European silverware since 1982

Aston Villa manager Unai Emery says securing a top-four finish in the Premier League remains the priority but there is “no way” it will distract his team from the club’s first European major semi-final in 42 years.

Villa have enjoyed a transformational season under Spaniard Emery and could qualify for the Champions League this weekend if Tottenham lose at Chelsea on Thursday.

On the same night, Villa host Greek side Olympiakos in the first leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final.

“We are very excited for the Conference League and very motivated with the Premier League,” said Emery.

“It’s not changing my first message when we started the season – the most important thing is the Premier League, then we can add the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Conference League.

“If we get to the end of the season being a contender, of course the importance is changing a little bit.

“The first priority is the Premier League but we’re trying to do the best in both.”

Villa have not played in a continental semi-final since winning the European Cup in 1982 and are the last remaining English side in European competition this season.

Emery won the Europa League four times during his spells at Sevilla and Villarreal, while also leading Arsenal to the final of the same competition.

The 52-year-old boss says his wealth of experience is no guarantee of success with Villa, but knows “football is only to win”.

“When I arrived here my first objective was to get to Europe. We did a very big effort and we have the Europa Conference League. We have enjoyed it,” Emery said.

Villa will be without suspended goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, while midfielder Youri Tielemans and defender Alex Moreno are injured.

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