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The challenges facing Aston Villa after qualifying for the Champions League

Aston Villa qualified for the Champions League for the first time in their history following Tottenham’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester City on Tuesday.

Unai Emery’s side fell short of European success this season after a 6-2 aggregate defeat to Olympiakos in the Europa Conference League semi-final but will now rub shoulders with Europe’s elite for the first time in 41 years.

Here, we have a look at the challenges they may face next season.

Villa had their first taste of European football since 2010-11 this term and reached the last four but will now face stiffer competition at Europe’s top table. Their trip to Crystal Palace on the final day of the Premier League season will be their 56th game this term and injuries have started to sweep through the dressing room. The Champions League format next season will see teams play two more games in the group stage than previous years, so Villa will need to strengthen with quality in all departments in order to go toe to toe with the best teams on the continent.

Villa last appeared in Europe’s top competition in the 1982-83 season. They became just the fourth English side to lift the coveted trophy by beating Bayern Munich in Rotterdam in May 1982, but the Bundesliga champions got their revenge a year later by dumping Aston Villa out in the quarter-finals.

The stand-out performer has been Ollie Watkins. The 28-year-old has contributed 19 goals and 13 assists in 36 Premier League appearances, including notable performances against Arsenal – where he notched the second at the Emirates Stadium to sink the Gunners 2-0 – as well as his hat-trick in the 6-1 crushing of Brighton in October. Others have rallied around their star man, including midfield pairing Douglas Luiz and John McGinn.