Aston Villa will treat this evening’s European tie in Prague as a unique occasion unlike anything they encounter in the Premier League, according to manager Martin O’Neill.
Villa will take a break from their demanding Premier League schedule when they attempt to strengthen their position at the top of Uefa Cup group F against Slavia Prague.
“This is a different game, different competition and a different set of circumstances,” said O’Neill. “First of all we have to go and compete. Secondly we want to get something out of it to keep ourselves alive in the competition.
“That will be hard. It would be hard anyway – even if we were going in and deciding to go in and not make changes. But nothing is insurmountable if we get the ball down and play it.”
Villa defeated Ajax 2-1 at home in their first group match and O’Neill is more than happy with his team’s start in the competition.
“So far we have done fine,” he said. “Tottenham lost their opening game, as did Portsmouth, but I don’t think those two are out of it yet. We had a great win against Ajax.
“We have three points on the board. That’s fine.”
The game will take place at Eden, the 21,000 stadium which opened in May.
O’Neill’s men will have to beware of twin dangermen Tomas Necid, who sits top of the national scoring charts with nine league goals, and Tijani Belaid, who is the third with six.
The Villa manager is looking for a positive response following his team’s third league defeat of the season, a 2-0 reverse at Newcastle, on Monday.
“Everybody is disappointed,” he added. “It was a great opportunity in terms of where it might have put us, but at the end of it we have to now put it to one side and fight back.
“All thoughts now are on Prague and pushing on.”