Matchday three brings a Group F summit meeting at San Siro as perfect AC Milan welcome unbeaten Real Betis.
Article top media content
The top two teams in UEFA Europa League Group F face off in northern Italy as section leaders Milan aim to make it nine points out of nine against a Betis side who are also undefeated after two fixtures and yet to concede a goal.
• Milan's two wins out of two have not been straightforward, a narrow opening 1-0 success against group stage debutants Dudelange in Luxembourg preceding a 3-1 victory at home to Olympiacos in which they trailed for most of the game until scoring three times in rapid succession late on. Betis drew 0-0 in Piraeus before scoring three second-half goals themselves to beat dogged Dudelange 3-0 in Seville.
• 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 – though Milan won the home leg 2-1.
• The Rossoneri have a wealth of experience against Spanish opposition, playing 55 matches in total but winning just 18 of them. At home, they have won 12 of 26 contests though only one of the past nine (D5 L3). Betis, meanwhile, have played just one other tie against a team from Italy, losing 4-1 at Bologna en route to elimination in the 1998/99 UEFA Cup. They have therefore lost on both of their previous visits to Italy.
• 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.
• Arsenal were the only team to win at San Siro in last season's UEFA Europa League campaign, Milan claiming victory in five of the other six games and drawing 0-0 on matchday three against AEK Athens.
• 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 have lost only one of their last eight European away games, winning four, and have not conceded more than once in any match during that sequence, keeping five clean sheets.
Links and trivia
• 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.
• Betis duo Cristian Tello and Joaquín are both ex-Fiorentina players, while Antonio Sanabria (Sassuolo, Roma) and Zouhair Feddal (Parma, Siena, Palermo) have also played in Italy.
• Giovani Lo Celso (Betis) has three fellow Argentina internationals in the Milan squad – Higuaín, Musacchio and Lucas Biglia.
• 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.
• 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.