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Rupert Wyman 18th Aug 2010 - 10:58

Villa look to avoid a rapid UEFA Cup exit

Aston Villa (6/5) face a tough start to this year's UEFA Cup campaign with a trip to Austria to take on a Rapid Vienna team who will be high on confidence after showing good recent form in the league.

The Austrian side had a disastrous start to the season losing their opening encounter 4-0 at Wacker Innsbruck followed by a home defeat to SC Magna. They have however bounced back in style with two wins including an impressive away win at Sturm Graz last time out.

One factor to consider here is that the Austrian season started in mid July.  This could give the home team the competitive edge with four league games already under their belt compared to Villa's one. Caretaker boss Kevin McDonald will be hoping his side won't be caught cold in a similar fashion to Spurs on Tuesday if they are to avoid a first leg deficit.

Vienna striker Nikica Jelavic has two goals so far this term and is 7/1 to open the scoring. Stewart Downing got on the scoresheet for Villa against West Ham and he is 5/1 to score anytime.

The performance of the Villa side could well have an influence on Randy Lerner's decision as to whether to appoint current Caretaker Kevin McDonald to the manager's position on a full time basis.

William Hill currently rate him as the 6/4 favourite following an emphatic win over West Ham in their opening game of the season.

His team reacted in the perfect way to the shock resignation of Martin O'Neill by registering a straight forward win with goals from Downing, Petrov and the now departed James Milner.

As well as the nature of the victory McDonald has been impressive in press conferences and his handling of the James Milner transfer saga and is now many fans' pick for the job ahead of Sven Goran Eriksson (7/2) and American Bob Bradley (9/2).

McDonald is expected to send a strong team out for the opening of their UEFA Cup campaign but new signing Stephen Ireland will have to wait to make his debut.

The Villains showed their attacking prowess on Saturday and there have been goals in all of Rapid's game so far this season so over 2.5 at 10/11 looks a good price.

I expect a high scoring game with Villa grabbing at least one away goal. I do think however that home advantage in their 18,500 capacity stadium will give the Austrians the edge and they will sneak a win (23/10).  A bet on Rapid Vienna to win and over 2.5 goals double in our specials markets at 4/1 could also be good value.


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