UEFA Europa League – Atlético-Arsenal – Atlético v Arsenal background
Atlético Madrid and Arsenal reconvene for the second leg of their semi-final at the Estadio Metropolitano following a first-leg 1-1 draw in London – a match in which the Spanish visitors were reduced to ten men after just ten minutes but managed to snatch a late equaliser that strengthens their bid to reach a third UEFA Europa League final.
• If Arsenal are to bring the curtain down on manager Arsène Wenger’s swansong season at the final in Lyon, they must become the first visiting team to score at Atlético’s new stadium since January – a run of 11 matches in all competitions.
• Both Arsenal and Atlético survived second-leg scares in the quarter-finals, the Gunners eventually prevailing 6-3 on aggregate against CSKA Moskva (4-1 home, 2-2 away after trailing 0-2) and Los Colchoneros edging Iberian rivals Sporting CP 2-1 over the two legs (2-0 home, 0-1 away).
• Having crossed over to the UEFA Europa League after finishing third in their UEFA Champions League group, Atlético made light work of both Danish champions FC København in the round of 32 and Russian league leaders Lokomotiv Moskva in the round of 16, winning all four matches.
• Arsenal, the lone English representatives in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase, won four of their six autumn encounters to top Group H before knocking out European debutants Östersund in the round of 32 then winning both legs against AC Milan – 2-0 in Italy and 3-1 in London.
• Arsenal dominated the first leg following Atlético full-back Šime Vrsaljko’s early dismissal for a second yellow card. However, it was not until just after the hour that Alexandre Lacazette headed Wenger’s team in front. Further Gunners attacks were quelled by a characteristically obdurate Atlético defence, and on 82 minutes Antoine Griezmann levelled against the run of play.
• Arsenal and Atlético had never met in UEFA competition prior to the first leg, though the Gunners did beat their Spanish opponents 2-1 at home in the 2009 pre-season Emirates Cup.
• Atlético’s record in 28 matches against English clubs is W10 D12 L6, and they have been victorious in seven of their nine two-legged knockout contests, including each of the last three; only Derby County (1974/75 UEFA Cup) and Bolton Wanderers (2007/08 UEFA Cup) have eliminated them. At home they have lost just once in 12 visits from English clubs – 1-2 against Chelsea in this season’s UEFA Champions League group stage in what was their first European game in the Estadio Metropolitano.
• The Gunners have won only ten of their 32 UEFA competition matches against teams from Spain, losing 14. On Spanish soil their record is W2 D3 L9, with no wins coming in their last seven visits (D2 L5) since a 1-0 victory at Real Madrid in the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League round of 16.
• Arsenal have also lost on neutral terrain against Spanish clubs in three out of three European finals – the 1979/80 European Cup Winners’ Cup to Valencia in Brussels (on penalties after a 0-0 draw), the 1994/95 European Cup Winners’ Cup to Real Zaragoza in Paris (1-2 aet) and the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League to Barcelona in Saint-Denis (1-2).
• The London club have won five of their nine two-legged UEFA ties with Liga opposition but have lost each of the last three – all to Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League. Their one previous semi-final against Spanish opponents did end in success, a 1-0 aggregate win over Villarreal in 2005/06 (1-0 home, 0-0 away) taking them into their first – and as yet only – European Cup/UEFA Champions League final.
• Atlético have won 15 of their last 16 home fixtures in the UEFA Europa League, qualifying included, and have yet to concede in their three wins out of three at the Estadio Metropolitano.
• Los Rojiblancos have won four of their six European matches in their new stadium, losing that first game to Chelsea – the only defeat in their last 17 European home games (W13 D3).
• Atlético have lost only once at home in 12 UEFA Europa League knockout phase encounters – 0-2 to Rubin Kazan in 2012/13. They went eight games undefeated at the Vicente Calderón during the competition’s knockout rounds (W5 D3) en route to lifting the trophy in 2009/10 and 2011/12.
• UEFA Europa League victors in 2010 and 2012, Atlético are making their first appearance in the competition in five years. Since then Diego Simeone’s side have appeared in two UEFA Champions League finals and reached the quarter-finals and semi-finals in two other seasons.
• Successful in both of their previous UEFA Europa League semi-finals, against Liverpool in 2009/10 and Valencia in 2011/12 (4-2 home, 1-0 away), Atlético’s overall record in 14 UEFA competition semi-final ties is W8 L6. They had won four in a row before going down to city rivals Real Madrid in last season’s UEFA Champions League (0-3 away, 2-1 home).
• Atlético have won ten of their home legs in UEFA semi-finals, losing three. They are unbeaten in the last five (W4 D1).
• Atlético finished third in the Spanish Liga last season, and this is only the second time in eight attempts that they have failed to progress beyond the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. However, on the only other occasion, in 2009/10, they went on to win the UEFA Europa League.
• The Gunners have won six of their last eight away fixtures in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League, including four out of six in 2017/18, the only defeat coming at Köln (0-1) in this season’s group stage. The 2-2 draw at CSKA Moskva in the quarter-finals ended a run of four successive away victories in the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League knockout phase.
• Arsenal have prolonged their European campaign into the spring for the 19th successive year – all under Arsène Wenger’s management.
• Arsenal are making their UEFA Europa League debut this season. Their last European campaign outside the UEFA Champions League was the 1999/2000 UEFA Cup, which ended with a penalty shoot-out defeat in the final against Galatasaray. They overcame French side Lens in that season’s semi-final, winning 1-0 at home and 2-1 away.
• The Gunners’ record in six UEFA competition semi-final ties is W5 L1, prevailing in each of the first five – against Juventus (1979/80, 1-1 home, 1-0 away), Paris Saint-Germain (1993/94, 1-1 away, 1-0 home) and Sampdoria (1994/95, 3-2 home, 2-3 away, won on penalties) in the European Cup Winners’ Cup, then Lens and Villarreal – before Manchester United ousted them in the last four of the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League (0-1 away, 1-3 home). They have therefore never lost a semi-final to foreign opposition.
• Arsenal’s away record in UEFA semi-finals is W2 D2 L2 F6 A6.
• Atlético have won 11 of the 13 UEFA competition ties in which they drew the first leg away from home, losing only to Derby in the 1974/75 UEFA Cup second round (2-2 away, 2-2 home, 6-7 on penalties) and Ajax in the 1996/97 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals (1-1 away, 2-3 home)
• The Spanish side’s aggregate record when drawing the first leg away 1-1 is W7 L1, with that tie against Ajax their only defeat. In all seven of those aggregate victories they have won the second leg at home, four of them with clean sheets including the most recent, when Simeone’ team beat Barcelona 1-0 in Madrid in the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals with an early goal from Koke.
• Arsenal’s record in two-legged UEFA competition ties when they have drawn the first leg at home is W3 L3, although they have lost the last two such ties. When the scoreline has been 1-1, they have won two out of three, the victories coming against Juventus in that 1979/80 European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final and Auxerre in the quarter-final of the same competition 15 years later, both 1-0 in the second leg. The defeat was brought about by a 2-4 second-leg loss away to Liverpool in the quarter-finals of the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League.
• On the only occasion that Arsenal have drawn the first leg at home to Spanish opposition, 2-2 against Barcelona in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League quarter-final, Wenger’s team were eliminated after a 4-1 defeat in the return, Lionel Messi scoring all four goals after the Gunners had taken the lead in the Camp Nou.
Links and trivia
• Atlético pair Vitolo and Kevin Gameiro both won the UEFA Europa League three seasons running with Sevilla (2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16).
• Filipe Luís, Gabi, Diego Godín, Juanfran, Koke and Saúl were all at Atlético when the club won the trophy under Simeone in 2011/12.
• Fernando Torres was a UEFA Europa League winner with Chelsea in 2012/13 – a year after he won the UEFA Champions League with the same club.
• Arsenal’s Armenian international Henrikh Mkhitaryan was a UEFA Europa League winner with Manchester United last season.
• Wenger’s side have more wins in the UEFA Europa League this season – eight – than any other club and are also the competition’s top scorers with 30 goals – seven shy of FC Porto’s record haul in 2010/11. They have also had more goal attempts than any other side – 186 – while injured midfielder Mohamed Elneny has completed more passes (710) than any other player.
• Atlético are the only UEFA Europa League (or UEFA Cup) winners in the semi-finals. They are also the only side among the final four to have previously played in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals.
• Griezmann’s goal in the quarter-final first leg against Sporting was the 500th scored by a Spanish club in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final. The second leg was the 300th outing in the competition proper for a team from Spain. Both figures are records for a single nation.
• Simeone faced Arsenal twice as a player with Lazio in the first group stage of the 2000/01 UEFA Champions League (0-2 away, 1-1 home).
• Diego Costa made 89 Premier League appearances for Chelsea between 2014 and 2017, scoring 52 goals and winning the title in 2016/17. He faced Arsenal five times in the league, scoring twice. He also found the net against the Gunners on his final Chelsea appearance – in the 2017 FA Cup final, which Arsenal won 2-1.
• Mesut Özil played 105 times in the Spanish Liga for Real Madrid between 2010 and 2013, scoring 19 goals. He faced Atlético eight times (W7 L1) and scored four goals against Los Rojiblancos.
• Nacho Monreal played 127 league matches for Osasuna and 45 for Málaga during his time in Spain. He faced Atlético 11 times (W3 D2 L6), scoring an own goal in Osasuna’s 2-1 defeat in June 2007 and receiving a red card in the Pamplona club’s 3-0 loss in November 2010.
• Shkodran Mustafi made 64 Liga appearances for Valencia between 2014 and 2016, scoring six times. He faced Atlético on four occasions (W1 D1 L2), scoring in a 1-1 draw in March 2015.
• Atlético’s Gameiro, Griezmann and Lucas Hernández are French national team-mates of Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny and Lacazette.
• Arsenal’s Monreal and Héctor Bellerín and the Atlético quartet of Koke, Saúl, Vitolo and Diego Costa are all Spanish internationals.
• Arsenal’s Nigerian international midfielder Alex Iwobi turns 22 on the day of the game.
• Vrsaljko is suspended following his red card in the first leg.
• Atlético’s record in UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W2 L4:
6-7 v Derby, 1974/75 UEFA Cup second round
1-3 v Fiorentina, 1989/90 UEFA Cup first round
1-3 v Villarreal, 2004 UEFA Intertoto Cup final
3-2 v Leverkusen, 2014/15 UEFA Champions League round of 16
8-7 v PSV Eindhoven, 2015/16 UEFA Champions League round of 16
3-5 v Real Madrid, 2015/16 UEFA Champions League final
• Arsenal’s record in UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W2 L2:
4-5 v Valencia, 1979/80 UEFA 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
• Diego Simeone has been the Atlético coach since December 2011, and has added five trophies to the club’s collection, including the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League, as well as steering the Madrid club to the UEFA Champions League finals of 2014 and 2016. The combative ex-Argentina midfielder also had two spells at Atlético as a player, winning the Spanish double in 1995/96.
• Arsène Wenger has been the Arsenal manager since 1996, leading the Gunners to three English titles, a record seven FA Cup wins and the 2006 UEFA Champions League final. A player of modest repute, he made his name as a coach with Nancy and Monaco in his native France before moving to Japan for a brief spell with Nagoya Grampus 8. The longest serving manager in the Premier League, he will leave the club at the end of the season.