Not only that but Villa are without Mikey Drennan for the game in Lake Como who is still nursing an injury. Can they stop the frightening Carlos Mane and Iuri Medeiros from ruining the English dream?
Arsenal take on Chelsea this afternoon in the NextGen Series semi-finals in Como but the evening fixture between Aston Villa and Sporting Lisbon is perhaps more likely to produce the eventual winner of the competition.
Tony McAndrew’s Young Villains have defied the logic of UEFA’s plans for a senior side based youth competition by outperforming their senior side at a massive level this season. The same can also be said about Sporting Lisbon. Their senior team is also having a difficult campaign but both teams youngsters have enthralled in the NextGen Series.
The two have already played each other in the Group Stages of the competition. Sporting may have won the group and the first fixture between the two in Birmingham but when Villa travelled to Lisbon they dished out a 5-1 thrashing; although Sporting did have some of their star players called up for first-team action.
Carlos Mane, Iuri Medeiros and Mickael Meira are all expected to feature are all expected to feature and after the way in which they tore apart Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool in the previous two rounds they certainly possess an attacking threat. However Villa will be buoyed by their somewhat sketchy defensive record in the competition.
For Aston Villa they have one big loss ahead of the game. Competition top-scorer Mikey Drennan will not be travelling with the squad as he continues rehab back in the UK.
I won't be back for the semi or final if we make it but just hope the lads go and win it! Still have another 4-6 weeks out— mikey drennan (@mikeydrennan) March 21, 2013
Therefore they will look to Callum Robinson to lead the line with the creativity coming from the likes of Samir Carruthers, Jack Grealish and Graham Burke.
Villa still have an abundance of talent but there is no doubt that the impact of their six-goal top-scorer will be sorely missed and with Mane just behind him on five goals he may also be saying goodbye to his individual accolade if the winger brings his A-game.
Villa still have the quality and if they can prevent the likes of Mane and Medeiros from controlling the game then there is little doubt they could advance to the final; and setup and all English tie for the crown of the best young team in Europe.
Here are some Tweets from Villa players…
Just finished training preparing for tonight everyone tune in to Eurosport at 7 ! Hopefully we win and go through to the final— Lewis Kinsella (@Lewis_kinsella) March 29, 2013
For you guys that didnt know, our semi final game tmmz vs sporting is on Eurosport! 7pm KO! Will be a good game! Hopefully we can win! AVFC!— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish1) March 28, 2013
image: © NextGen