One of four Spanish clubs competing in the UEFA Europa League knockout round play-offs, Real Betis have a 3-2 advantage to protect as they welcome Russian champions Zenit to Seville for the second leg.
• During the autumn Betis finished runners-up to Bayer Leverkusen in UEFA Europa League Group G with a game to spare, while Zenit claimed third place in UEFA Champions League Group H, their final tally of five points leaving them a long way adrift of top two Juventus and Chelsea but four ahead of bottom-placed Malmö.
• The first leg, which was also the clubs’ first UEFA encounter, provided five goals – all in the first half. Guido Rodríguez – with his first European goal – and Willian José quickly put Betis 2-0 up, but Zenit responded with two goals in four minutes from Artem Dzyuba and Malcom, only for Mexican international Andrés Guardado to fire what proved to be the match-winning strike four minutes before the interval.
• Betis registered their first victory against Russian opposition at the fourth attempt when they won 2-0 at Rubin Kazan in the second leg of the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League round of 32 to take the tie 3-1 on aggregate. Their previous two home games against visitors from Russia have both been drawn.
• Zenit’s record against Spanish clubs is W6 D6 L11. They lost their first six matches in Spain, including two in Seville against Betis’s city rivals Sevilla, before back-to-back wins against Valencia and Real Sociedad. However, they lost on their last visit, going down 2-1 at Villarreal in the 2018/19 UEFA Europa League round of 16 to complete a 5-2 aggregate defeat.
• That made Zenit’s record in two-legged contests with Spanish teams W1 L4. The only success came on away goals against a Villarreal side led by current Betis coach Manuel Pellegrini (1-0 h, 1-2 a) in the round of 32 of the 2007/08 UEFA Cup, which the Russian club went on to win.
• Betis ended the 2020/21 Spanish Liga campaign under new boss Pellegrini in sixth place to end a two-season absence from Europe and qualify for a third crack at the UEFA Europa League.
• The Seville club maintained their perfect record in the UEFA Europa League group stage by making it three qualifications out of three this term, though they were beaten to first place in Group G by Leverkusen, who overcame them 4-0 in Germany – their joint-heaviest European away defeat – after a 1-1 draw in Spain. Betis took six points off Ferencváros (3-1 a, 2-0 h) and shared 12 goals with Celtic, winning 4-3 at home and losing 3-2 in Glasgow, though that second encounter, on Matchday 6, was academic as the final positions in the section had already been settled.
• Betis reached the UEFA Europa League round of 16 in 2013/14 thanks to that victory over Rubin but then went out on penalties to Sevilla after both clubs won 2-0 away. Their only other knockout phase campaign, in 2018/19, lasted just two matches as they were beaten by Rennes, a 3-3 away draw preceding a 1-3 home defeat.
• Betis are unbeaten in Seville in the UEFA Europa League group stage (W5 D4) but are yet to win at home in the competition’s knockout phase (D1 L2).
• Although Betis lost that 2013/14 round of 16 tie against Sevilla, they have won all of the other five UEFA ties in which they claimed a first-leg away victory. They have never previously won 3-2 away in the first leg of a European contest.
• Zenit claimed their eighth domestic league title in 2020/21, becoming Russian champions for the third year in a row. They also finished bottom of their UEFA Champions League group for a second successive season.
• This term Sergei Semak’s side avoided a hat-trick of autumn European exits thanks to the four points they took off Malmö, registering their biggest UEFA Champions League win in a 4-0 home success before an added-time penalty earned them a 1-1 draw in Sweden. Their only other point in Group H came on Matchday 6 courtesy of another last-gasp strike in a 3-3 home draw against holders Chelsea.
• The 2007/08 UEFA Cup winners are making their seventh appearance in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase and third after crossing over mid-season from the UEFA Champions League. They have progressed to the round of 16 in five of their previous six campaigns but reached the quarter-finals just once, in 2014/15, when they were ousted by eventual winners Sevilla.
• The St Petersburg team have lost their last seven away fixtures in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase, making their all-time record on the road at this stage of the competition W1 L11. Zenit’s last win in any European away game was that 3-1 success at Real Sociedad in 2017; their record since then is D4 L14.
• Zenit have lost all five UEFA ties in which they were beaten in the first leg at home, the most recent that 2018/19 UEFA Europa League round of 16 elimination by Villarreal. This is the first time they have been required to come back from a 2-3 first-leg home defeat.
UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Joel Robles, Youssouf Sabaly
Out: Paul Akouokou, Martín Montoya, Rober González (Las Palmas, loan)
In: Arsen Adamov (Ural Yekaterinburg), Yuri Alberto (Internacional), Ivan Sergeev (Krylya Sovetov Samara)
Out: Sardar Azmoun (Bayer Leverkusen)
Links and trivia
• Betis trio Sergio Canales, Willian José and Juanmi all featured in both matches for Real Sociedad as Zenit beat the Basque club twice in the 2017/18 UEFA Europa League group stage.
• William Carvalho (Betis) and Wendel (Zenit) were team-mates at Sporting CP in the second half of 2017/18.
• Guardado captained Mexico to a 2-1 win against Russia in Kazan at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, Aleksandr Erokhin starting for the hosts.
• Betis’s Germán Pezzella won his first cap for Argentina in a 1-0 friendly win against Russia in Moscow in November 2017, Erokhin appearing as a substitute.
• A Málaga side coached by Pellegrini defeated Zenit 3-0 at home in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League group stage before drawing 2-2 with them in St Petersburg. Current Betis skipper Joaquín started the first match for the Spanish side, with Juanmi coming off the bench in the second.
• Zenit are one of five reigning national champions involved in the UEFA Europa League knockout round play-offs.
• Betis’s record in two UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W0 L2:
3-5 v Universitatea Craiova, 1984/85 UEFA Cup first round
3-4 v Sevilla, 2013/14 UEFA Europa League round of 16
• Zenit have yet to feature in a UEFA penalty shoot-out.
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