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Manchester United vs Milan: UEFA Europa League background, form guide, previous meetings

United were triumphant in the clubs’ most recent encounter in 2010, but Milan have won four of their five knockout ties.

Man. United's Alex Telles and Marcus Rashford in their round of 32 first-leg defeat of Real Sociedad
Man. United's Alex Telles and Marcus Rashford in their round of 32 first-leg defeat of Real Sociedad Getty Images

Two former European champions meet in a heavyweight UEFA Europa League contest as Manchester United go head to head with AC Milan in the round of 16.

• United competed in the UEFA Champions League during the autumn, but defeats in their final two Group H fixtures left them in third place on nine points behind Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig. They subsequently maintained their perfect record in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 by eliminating Real Sociedad, a 4-0 win at the Juventus Stadium in Turin followed by a goalless draw at Old Trafford.

• Milan, who kicked off their European campaign in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round, qualified for the knockout phase from a tough Group H comprising LOSC Lille, Sparta Praha and Celtic, leapfrogging the French side on Matchday 6 to take top spot with 13 points. They then knocked out Crvena zvezda in the round of 32 (2-2 a, 1-1 h), an own goal, two penalties and the away goals rule carrying them through.

Previous meetings

Highlights: Real Sociedad 0-4 Man. United
Highlights: Real Sociedad 0-4 Man. United

• This is the clubs' first UEFA encounter for 11 years, although they have been drawn against each other five times previously, on every occasion in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League knockout phase.

• Milan won the first four ties – three semi-finals, in 1957/58, 1968/69 and 2006/07, and a round of 16 tie, in 2004/05 when the Rossoneri also went on to reach the final – but United were triumphant in the most recent, Sir Alex Ferguson's men convincingly overcoming Leonardo's Milan in the 2009/10 round of 16 (3-2 a, 4-0 h).

• United have won four of their previous five games against Milan in Manchester, losing the other, and their overall home record against Italian visitors is W13 D2 L3, one of the defeats coming in the most recent such fixture, 0-1 against Juventus in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League group stage. This is United's first UEFA Europa League game against a Serie A side.

• Since losing to Milan in the 2006/07 semi-final United have won all three of their two-legged knockout ties against Italian opposition, therefore balancing their all-time record at W6 L6. They also lost the 1999 UEFA Super Cup to Lazio (0-1).

• Milan famously won the 2003 UEFA Champions League final at Old Trafford, beating Juventus on penalties after a 0-0 draw, and had also lifted the European Cup for the first time with a 2-1 win against Benfica at Wembley in 1963. However, their record in England against English hosts shows just one win in 17 matches (D6 L10). That came against United at Old Trafford in the 2004/05 round of 16 when Hernán Crespo scored the only goal of the game.

• Milan's record in two-legged knockout ties against English opponents reads W8 L6. They also have a positive history in European finals against English clubs, overcoming Leeds 1-0 in Salonika to lift the 1973 European Cup Winners' Cup, taking the UEFA Super Cup at Arsenal's expense in 1995 (0-0 a, 2-0 h), and ousting Liverpool 2-1 in the 2007 UEFA Champions League showpiece in Athens – two years after they had lost the same fixture to the same team on penalties following a 3-3 draw in Istanbul.

Form guide

Solskjær looks ahead to Milan showdown
Solskjær looks ahead to Milan showdown

Manchester United
• United finished third in the Premier League last season, when they also lost three semi-finals – in the English League Cup, the FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League. Their league position enabled them to participate in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 23rd time.

• Ole Gunnar Solskjær's men got off to a flier in Group H, beating Paris 2-1 away and Leipzig 5-0 at home, but they would lose three of their last four fixtures – 1-2 at İstanbul Başakşehir, 1-3 at home to Paris and 2-3 away to Leipzig – to drop down into third place.

• The Manchester giants have appeared in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 on four previous occasions. They lost the first two ties – against Athletic Club in 2011/12 (2-3 h, 1-2 a) and Liverpool in 2015/16 (0-2 a, 1-1 h) – but won the next two – against Rostov in their triumphant 2016/17 campaign (1-1 a, 1-0 h) and LASK last year (5-0 a, 2-1 h).

• United are unbeaten in their last 15 home games in the UEFA Europa League (W12 D3), winning five in a row before the recent stalemate with Real Sociedad. They have not conceded more than one goal at home in any UEFA Europa League encounter since that 2011/12 defeat by Athletic, keeping clean sheets in five of the last six.

Milan

Highlights: Milan 1-1 Crvena zvezda
Highlights: Milan 1-1 Crvena zvezda


• A sixth-placed finish in Serie A last term earned Milan a return to Europe after a one-season absence. Stefano Pioli's side beat Shamrock Rovers (2-0 a) and Bodø/Glimt (3-2 h) in their first two qualifying matches before dramatically capturing a place in the UEFA Europa League group stage by ousting Rio Ave 9-8 in a marathon penalty shoot-out after a 2-2 draw in Portugal.

• The Rossoneri made a strong start to Group H, winning 3-1 at Celtic and 3-0 at home to Sparta, but then lost 0-3 at home to LOSC before drawing 1-1 in France. Further victories against Celtic (4-2 h) and Sparta (1-0 a) were enough, however, to see them through as group winners.

• Victory over Crvena zvezda has given the Rossoneri a second crack at the round of 16. They also faced English opposition three seasons ago, losing both matches to Arsenal (0-2 h, 1-3 a).

• Undefeated on the road in 2020/21 (W3 D3), Milan's overall away record in the UEFA Europa League, qualifiers included, is W8 D5 L3. Yet the Rossoneri have struggled on their travels in recent springtime campaigns, losing seven of their last 12 post-Christmas European away fixtures and winning just one, 3-0 at Ludogorets in the 2017/18 round of 32.

Links and trivia

Zlatan Ibrahimović Man. United goals and assists
Zlatan Ibrahimović Man. United goals and assists

• This is the only UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie between former European champions. Just one other team on the European Cup roll of honour is still involved in the competition – Ajax.

• While Manchester United are the only club in this season's round of 16 to have won the UEFA Europa League, Milan have never reached the final of either this competition or its predecessor, the UEFA Cup. Their best seasons were semi-final placings in 1971/72 and 2001/02.

• Milan full-back Diogo Dalot is on loan from Manchester United.

• Zlatan Ibrahimović was a Manchester United player from 2016 to 2018, helping the club win the UEFA Europa League. He is a former Sweden team-mate of United defender Victor Lindelöf.

• United's Paul Pogba played in Italy for Juventus between 2012 and 2016. He faced Milan eight times in Serie A, winning seven of those matches and scoring in the last of them, a 2-1 away win in 2015/16. He also met Milan in the 2015/16 Coppa Italia final, which Juve won 1-0 after extra time.

• United striker Edinson Cavani played in Italy for Palermo (2007–10) and Napoli (2010–13). He took on Milan 12 times, scoring four goals, including a hat-trick for Napoli in 2011/12. He was a team-mate of Milan's Simon Kjær at Palermo.

• Bruno Fernandes began his career in Italy, playing for Novara (2012/13), Udinese (2013–16) and Sampdoria (2016/17). He faced Milan five times in Serie A (W2 L3) and once in the Coppa Italia with Udinese, defeating the Rossoneri 2-1 in a 2013/14 quarter-final.

• Alex Telles played 21 Serie A games for Milan's city rivals Internazionale in 2015/16.

• Amad Diallo joined United from Atalanta in January. He made just four league appearances for the Bergamo club, scoring one goal.

• Sergio Romero played for Sampdoria between 2011 and 2015, making 71 Serie A outings.

• Milan loanee Brahim Díaz was a Manchester City player between 2016 and 2019.

• Fikayo Tomori is on loan at Milan from Chelsea.

• Donny van de Beek scored his first international goal past Gianluigi Donnarumma in a 1-1 UEFA Nations League draw between Italy and the Netherlands in Bergamo on 14 October 2020.

• Mario Mandžukić struck the winning goal in extra time of the 2018 FIFA World Cup semi-final as Croatia came from behind to beat an England side featuring Harry Maguire and substitute Marcus Rashford. Mandžukić also scored in the final, but Pogba's France won 4-2 with the United midfielder on target for Les Bleus.

• United are one of five clubs appearing in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for a second successive season, along with Olympiacos, Rangers, Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk.