Brazilian legend Zico is backing Aston Villa to emulate CSKA Moscow and join them in qualifying for next season's Champions League.
Zico will take charge of CSKA for the first time in Wednesday night's UEFA Cup first-round clash at Villa Park with the Russian club already assured of their place in the Champions League for the 2009-2010 campaign, but he believes Villa will follow the same path if they continue the form which has seen them climb into third spot in the Barclays Premier League.
The former World Cup star said: "If Aston Villa keep playing the type of football they are producing at the moment, they have every chance of participating in the Champions League next season."
He added: "The team is a great team containing great players of very high quality. It is performing now at its best. If it keeps playing like this, it has every chance to keep growing and easily it will join the Champions League for next season."
Zico has been particularly impressed by the contributions of winger Ashley Young and midfielder Gareth Barry but knows CSKA will have to be on their guard in all areas.
He added: "Aston Villa are in third place not just because of the contribution of one or two players. It is because the whole team is very strong and we must take care of every player.
"Ashley Young is a really great player and, if you give him a lot of freedom, then he is going to cause a lot of problems to our team.
"Gareth Barry is also very important as well. He is very dangerous and links up play effectively.
"But, if the team stays in third place in the Premier League, it is because of the whole team and we must pay a lot of attention to every player."
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