Rapid vs Villa – MacDonald hoping lightning does not strike twice
Retribution will be the name of the game for Aston Villa as they look to avenge their elimination to Rapid Vienna in the Europa League 12 months ago.
Villa went out on away goals when clashing with the Austrians at the play-off stage last year and remarkably have been drawn against the same opposition again.
This time it is Kevin MacDonald and not Martin O’Neill that leads Villa into combat and will be hopeful of a similar display that marked his debut in the dugout when claiming a 3-0 victory on the opening day of the Premier League season.
MacDonald faces the decision of whether to go with his senior players again, minus James Milner after sealing his long-winded move to Manchester City, or give his fringe players a chance to prove their worth.
Villa lost the away leg in Vienna 1-0 last season and a repeat of that score is 6/1.
Meanwhile, those believing that MacDonald will improve his prospects of nailing down the Villa job on a permanent basis and win in Austria can take advantage of odds of 11/10.
Emile Heskey is one player that is likely to feature for Villa and is 8/1 to be the first goalscorer.
Rapid have included Nikica Jelavic in their squad despite the Croatian international supposedly being close to completing a move to Rangers.
He scored a double in the home leg of their victory over Bulgarian outfit Beroe Stara Zagora in the last Europa League qualification round, while also netting twice in their four league games to date.
Jelavic is 7/1 to break the deadlock, with Rapid 5/2 to repeat their feat of last year and make it to the group stages of the Europa League.
A tight game is almost guaranteed and an enticing bet could be the 12/5 on under 1.5 goals being scored in the first leg.