Betis went above AC Milan with a surprise matchday three success at San Siro ahead of part two in southern Spain.
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The top two teams in UEFA Europa League Group F meet again in southern Spain two weeks after Betis pulled off a surprise 2-1 win over AC Milan at their San Siro home to leapfrog the Italian side to the top of the section.
• Milan had gone into that 25 October meeting with two wins out of two – 1-0 at Dudelange and 3-1 at home to Olympiacos - while Betis's four points had come from an opening 0-0 draw in Piraeus and a 3-0 win against the group stage debutants from Luxembourg in Seville. Patrick Cutrone's third goal in two games proved only a consolation for Milan after Betis had gone 2-0 up through South American duo Toni Sanabria and Giovani Lo Celso.
• Betis will be through if they win and Olympiacos do not at home to Dudelange, who have lost their first three matches.
• Only once before have the clubs been paired together in UEFA competition, Betis prevailing 3-2 on aggregate in the 1977/78 European Cup Winners' Cup first round thanks to a 2-0 first-leg win in Seville.
• The Rossoneri have a wealth of experience against Spanish opposition, playing 56 matches in total but winning just 18 of them and only four of 25 in Spain, with each of their last five matches there ending in defeat.
• Betis, in contrast, have played just one other tie against a team from Italy, winning 1-0 at home to Bologna but losing the tie in the third round of the 1998/99 UEFA Cup. They have therefore won both of their home games against Italian opposition without conceding.
• Betis finished one place and two points above Sevilla in last season's Liga to clinch an automatic UEFA Europa League group stage spot at their city rivals' expense.
• Prior to this season, Betis's last opponents in Europe were Sevilla, and it was a painful experience as they lost to the eventual winners on penalties in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League round of 16. That was the club's first European adventure in eight years, their six group games featuring just five goals in total but the three they scored proving sufficient to take them into the round of 32. There they overcame Rubin Kazan 3-1 on aggregate before the dramatic all-Seville clash in which both clubs won 2-0 at their opponents' stadium.
• Betis won only two of their six home games during that 2013/14 European run, and from the group stage onwards managed just two goals in Seville – though they did keep three clean sheets out of three in their group encounters, adding a fourth to that sequence this season.
• A sixth-placed finish in Serie A last term earned Milan an automatic UEFA Europa League group stage berth. They also reached the final of the Coppa Italia, where they were beaten 4-0 by champions Juventus.
• The Rossoneri ended a three-season absence from Europe last term by playing 14 matches in the UEFA Europa League, going from the third qualifying round to the round of 16, where they lost home and away to Arsenal. It was the club's debut in this competition, their previous five European participations from 2009/10 to 2013/14 having all been in the UEFA Champions League – all of which extended into that competition's knockout phase.
• Milan's away record in the UEFA Europa League is W5 D1 L2. In the group stage it is W2 D1 L1.
Links and trivia
• Betis duo Cristian Tello and Joaquín are both ex-Fiorentina players, while Sanabria (Sassuolo, Roma) and Zouhair Feddal (Parma, Siena, Palermo) have also played in Italy.
• Milan have three Spanish players in their ranks: Pepe Reina, Suso and Samu Castillejo. Additionally, Gonzalo Higuaín (Real Madrid), Cristián Zapata (Villarreal), Mateo Musacchio (Villarreal) and Alen Halilović (Sporting Gijón, Las Palmas) have also played for Spanish clubs.
• Lo Celso has three fellow Argentina internationals in the Milan squad – Higuaín, Musacchio and Lucas Biglia.
• A former midfielder capped three times by Spain, Santander-born Quique Setién spent most of his playing career with home-town club Real Racing Club, his two lengthy spells there interrupted by shorter stints at Atlético Madrid and Logroñés. His coaching career also began at Racing and eventually prospered in the Canary Islands with Las Palmas. He returned to the Spanish mainland to take charge of Betis in May 2017, leading the Seville club to sixth spot in the Liga at the end of his first season.
• Gennaro Gattuso replaced Vincenzo Montella as Milan coach on 27 November 2017, earning promotion from the youth team. A legendary Rossoneri midfielder of grit and endeavour who played for the club from 1999 to 2012, racking up 468 appearances in all competitions, he won both Serie A and the UEFA Champions League twice and also lifted the FIFA World Cup with Italy in 2006. He led Milan to a sixth-place Serie A finish in 2017/18.