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Arsenal vs Benfica: UEFA Europa League background, form guide, previous meetings

The European heavyweights resume their round of 32 tussle after a 1-1 draw last time out.

Benfica and Arsenal drew 1-1 in the opening leg
Benfica and Arsenal drew 1-1 in the opening leg Arsenal FC via Getty Images

It is all square between Arsenal and Benfica as the two European heavyweights continue their UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie in Piraeus after both maintaining their unbeaten runs in this season’s competition with a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Rome's Stadio Olimpico.

• Arsenal claimed maximum points in the autumn from Group B, where they did the double over Rapid Wien, Dundalk and fellow qualifiers Molde, scoring 20 goals in the process – the most ever by an English team in a UEFA Europa League group. The Portuguese giants also came through their section undefeated, with three wins and three draws, but had to settle for second place behind Rangers.

Highlights: Benfica 1-1 Arsenal
Highlights: Benfica 1-1 Arsenal

Previous meetings
 
• While Benfica were obliged to protect their undefeated UEFA Europa League home record in Rome rather than Lisbon, they managed to do so against Arsenal, although the lead given to them by Pizzi's penalty early in the second half lasted just two minutes before Bukayo Saka equalised.

• The clubs have been paired just once previously in UEFA competition, Sven Göran Eriksson's Eagles getting the better of George Graham's Gunners in a 1991/92 European Cup second round tie with a 3-1 comeback victory in extra time in London after a 1-1 first-leg draw in Lisbon, Benfica striker Isaías scoring three times in the tie.

• Arsenal have won five of their seven previous home matches against visitors from Portugal, that loss to Benfica 30 years ago their only defeat. They have faced Portuguese sides in each of their last two UEFA Europa League campaigns, drawing 0-0 at home to Sporting CP on Matchday 4 in 2018/19 and coming from behind twice to defeat Vitória SC 3-2 in London on Matchday 3 in 2019/20 thanks to a late Pepé double.

• This is just the third two-legged tie Arsenal have been involved in against Portuguese opponents. Having lost the first of them against Benfica, they won the second, 6-2 on aggregate against Porto in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League round of 16, with Nicklas Bendtner scoring a hat-trick in the second-leg 5-0 home win. That is the Gunners' most recent last-16 success in the UEFA Champions League, the seven ties since having all ended in defeat.

• The Lisbon club's record in two-legged ties against English opposition is W5 L7, with victories in the two most recent, both in the UEFA Europa League – against Newcastle United in the 2012/13 quarter-finals (3-1 h, 1-1 a) and Arsenal's local rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the 2013/14 round of 16 (3-1 a, 2-2 h).

• Benfica have won just 11 of their 37 matches against English clubs (D7 L19), losing European finals to Manchester United (1968 European Cup, 1-4 aet) and Chelsea (2013 UEFA Europa League, 1-2). Their 18 UEFA encounters in England, including that 1968 final at Wembley Stadium, have yielded just four wins – as opposed to 12 losses.

Watch Elneny stunner for Arsenal
Watch Elneny stunner for Arsenal

Form guide
 Arsenal
• Eighth in the 2019/20 Premier League, Arsenal ensured a 25th consecutive season in Europe by winning the FA Cup under new manager Mikel Arteta – the club's record 14th triumph in the competition – with a 2-1 victory over London rivals Chelsea in the final. Their third successive UEFA Europa League campaign was ended in the round of 32 by Olympiacos.

• UEFA Champions League ever-presents for 19 seasons in a row from 1998/99 to 2016/17, Arsenal reached the UEFA Europa League semi-finals at the first attempt in 2017/18, losing to eventual winners Atlético de Madrid, before going one step further and making it to the 2018/19 final, where they were defeated 4-1 by Chelsea in Baku. They have been group winners on all four UEFA Europa League appearances – an unprecedented feat – and this season became the 11th team in the competition to top their section with maximum points thanks to wins against Rapid (2-1 a, 4-1 h), Dundalk (3-0 h, 4-2 a) and Molde (4-1 h, 3-0 a).

• Arsenal won their first two UEFA Europa League round of 32 ties, against Östersund (3-0 a, 1-2 h) and BATE Borisov (0-1 a, 3-0 h), before succumbing last season to a late extra-time goal at home to Olympiacos that eliminated them on away goals (1-0 a, 1-2 h).

• The Gunners' overall UEFA Europa League record home record is W15 D3 L3. Last season's defeat by Olympiacos ended a seven-match unbeaten home run in the competition's knockout phase that incorporated six victories.

• Arsenal have won four of their ten previous UEFA competition encounters in Greece, losing five. Their record in games against Olympiacos at the Stadio Georgios Karaskaikis is W2 L3, the victories coming on the two most recent visits.

• Arsenal have won four of the six UEFA ties in which they have drawn the away leg first, including the two most recent. Their record after a 1-1 scoreline is W2 L2, the first of those two defeats that reverse against Benfica back in 1991, the second a famous 2003/04 UEFA Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea, when they lost the second leg 1-2 at Highbury.

Great Benfica Europa League goals
Great Benfica Europa League goals

Benfica
• Runners-up to Porto in the 2019/20 Portuguese Liga and Taça de Portugal, Benfica's bid to make it 11 successive appearances in the UEFA Champions League proper foundered on entry in this season's third qualifying round when, under newly reappointed head coach Jorge Jesus, they lost 2-1 in Greece against PAOK. They therefore entered the UEFA Europa League group stage for the first time since the competition's inaugural season of 2009/10.

• Benfica made a strong start to Group D, beating Lech Poznań 4-2 away and Standard Liège 3-0 at home before drawing twice with Rangers (3-3 h, 2-2 a) and sealing further progress with a 4-0 win over the Polish side in Lisbon. Although relatively unfamiliar with the UEFA Europa League group stage, Benfica have played more matches in the competition's knockout phase than any other club (41) and were runners-up in both 2012/13 (to Chelsea) and 2013/14 (to Sevilla) under Jesus.

• The Lisbon giants are appearing in the round of 32 for the seventh time. They won their first five ties, remaining unbeaten in all ten matches, but were unable to prolong that unblemished record last season, going out to Shakhtar Donetsk (1-2 a, 3-3 h).

• The Eagles have won only four of their last 22 European fixtures outside Portugal, losing 12, but they ended a run of three successive away defeats in the UEFA Europa League, all in the knockout phase, by defeating Lech 4-2 in Poland on Matchday 1.

• Benfica's record in Greece is W5 L6, this season's defeat at PAOK tipping the balance in favour of the host clubs. After winning their first match in Piraeus, they have lost on their last two visits, most recently going down 1-0 to Olympiacos in the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League group stage.

• When they have drawn the first home leg of a UEFA tie, Benfica have recorded six aggregate wins and seven losses. With a 1-1 scoreline their record is W4 L2, with wins in the last four such ties, notably the most recent, which featured a 4-1 second-leg victory in Greece against PAOK in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League play-offs.

UEFA Europa League squad changes
Arsenal
 
In: Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Ødegaard (Real Madrid, loan), Mat Ryan (Brighton, loan)
 Out: Sead Kolašinac (Schalke, loan), Matt Macey (Hibernian), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (West Brom, loan), Shkodran Mustafi (Schalke), Joe Willock (Newcastle, loan), Rúnar Rúnarsson

Benfica
 
In: Branimir Kalaica, Lucas Veríssimo (Santos)
 Out: Ferro (Valencia, loan), Jean-Clair Tobido (end of loan)

Great Arsenal Europa League goals
Great Arsenal Europa League goals

Links and trivia
• David Luiz, whose appearance in the first leg was his 99th in UEFA club competition, was a Benfica player from January 2007 to January 2011, making 132 appearances for the Lisbon club and winning the 2009/10 Portuguese Liga under current Eagles boss Jesus. After leaving Benfica the Brazilian defender played against them three times in Europe for Chelsea, winning all three games including the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League final in Amsterdam.

• Arsenal's Spanish defender Pablo Marí was coached by Jesus at Flamengo in 2019, winning the Brazilian Série A title and the Copa Libertadores.

• Jan Vertonghen spent eight years in north London with Tottenham, accumulating 315 appearances in all competitions, before joining Benfica last summer, while fellow new defensive recruit Nicolás Otamendi arrived in Lisbon after five seasons at Manchester City, during which he won seven major trophies. The Argentinian defender was also a UEFA Europa League winner with Porto in 2010/11.

• Benfica midfielder Adel Taarabt spent the early part of his career in England, playing for three London clubs – Tottenham, Queens Park Rangers and Fulham.

• Arsenal's Granit Xhaka and Benfica's Haris Seferović are Switzerland team-mates.

• Benfica's Luca Waldschmidt and Julian Weigl are fellow German internationals of Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

• Arsenal's Portuguese international Cédric played in his homeland for Benfica's Lisbon rivals Sporting CP as well as Académica Coimbra.

• Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a hat-trick for Borussia Dortmund against Benfica in the second leg of the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League round of 16, helping the German club to a 4-0 win and 4-1 aggregate triumph.

• Benfica midfielder Pizzi is the leading scorer in this season's UEFA Europa League with seven goals.

• Benfica are one of six former European Cup winners in this season's UEFA Europa League knockout phase, the others being Ajax, Crvena zvezda, Manchester United, AC Milan and PSV Eindhoven.

• Benfica were runners-up in the 1982/83 UEFA Cup as well as the 2012/13 and 2013/14 UEFA Europa League, while Arsenal were losing finalists in the 1999/2000 UEFA Cup and 2018/19 UEFA Europa League. Both clubs have lost UEFA Europa League finals to Chelsea.

Penalty shoot-outs
• Arsenal's record in four UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W2 L2:
4-5 v Valencia, 1979/80 European Cup Winners' Cup final
3-2 v Sampdoria, 1994/95 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup semi-final
1-4 v Galatasaray, 1999/2000 UEFA Cup final
7-6 v Roma, 2008/09 UEFA Champions League round of 16

• Benfica's record in four UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W2 L2:
4-1 v Torpedo Moskva, 1977/78 European Champion Clubs' Cup first round
5-6 v PSV Eindhoven, 1987/88 European Champion Clubs' Cup final
4-1 v PAOK, 1999/2000 UEFA Cup second round
2-4 v Sevilla, 2013/14 UEFA Europa League final