Last season’s UEFA Europa League quarter-finalists Dinamo Zagreb must not only end a long losing run against Spanish opposition but also overturn a two-goal deficit to reach the round of 16 as they host competition specialists Sevilla in the second leg of the knockout round play-offs.
• Dinamo finished second in UEFA Europa League Group H behind West Ham during the autumn, their 1-0 win in London on Matchday 6 raising their final tally to ten points – four clear of third-placed Rapid Wien. Sevilla, meanwhile, finished third in UEFA Champions League Group G behind LOSC Lille and Salzburg, winning just one of their six matches and ending on six points.
• Sevilla made it 12 successive UEFA Europa League home games without defeat in the first leg, winning 3-1 at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán – the venue for this season’s final – thanks to a two-goal burst just before half-time, Lucas Ocampos and Manchester United loanee Anthony Martial scoring in quick succession after Mislav Oršić had equalised Ivan Rakitić’s early penalty.
• The teams have been paired once previously in UEFA competition, in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League group stage, Jorge Sampaoli’s Sevilla winning both matches against Ivaylo Petev’s Dinamo – 1-0 in Zagreb and 4-0 at home a fortnight later – en route to finishing runners-up in the section behind Juventus. The Croatian side lost all six group games and became only the third team ever to complete a UEFA Champions League group stage without scoring a goal.
• Dinamo have lost four of their six UEFA fixtures at home to Spanish clubs (W1 D1), all by 0-1 scorelines. The most recent of those reverses came in the first leg of last season’s UEFA Europa League quarter-final, which they lost 3-1 on aggregate to eventual winners Villarreal – their third knockout elimination out of three against Spanish sides. The Croatian side’s last eight matches against Spanish opposition, home and away, have all ended in defeat.
• Sevilla’s only other meetings with Croatian opposition came in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League group stage when they drew 2-2 at Rijeka with an added-time equaliser before defeating them 1-0 in Seville. The Spanish side went on to retain the trophy.
• Champions of Croatia for the fourth season in a row in 2020/21 – when they completed the domestic double – and the 15th time in 16 seasons, Dinamo also went further than ever before in the UEFA Europa League last term, convincingly topping their group – with just one goal conceded – and eliminating Krasnodar and Tottenham before losing that quarter-final to Villarreal.
• This season’s bid for an eighth appearance in the UEFA Champions League proper ended in the play-offs, where Dinamo went down to Moldovan champions Sheriff (0-3 a, 0-0 h), having earlier eliminated Valur, Omonoia and Legia Warszawa. They came through their UEFA Europa League group, however, winning once each against their three opponents – 3-0 at Genk and 3-1 at home to Rapid as well as that closing 1-0 win at West Ham, under newly appointed interim boss Željko Kopić – to finish three points behind the English side in second place.
• Dinamo failed to progress beyond the UEFA Europa League group stage at the first four attempts but are now through to the knockout phase for the third time running. They reached the round of 16 in 2018/19 as well as last season’s quarter-finals.
• The 0-2 defeat by West Ham in Zagreb on Matchday 1 was one of only two losses in Dinamo’s last 14 European home matches (W8 D4), and their only one in seven outings this season (W3 D3). They won their first four UEFA Europa League knockout phase fixtures in Zagreb before ending that run against Villarreal last spring.
• Dinamo have won nine of the 23 UEFA competition ties in which they lost the first away leg, including last season’s momentous comeback against Tottenham in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 (0-2 a, 3-0 h aet), though they lost the most recent, against Sheriff in this season’s UEFA Champions League qualifying play-off. On the five previous occasions that they lost the opening leg 3-1 away, they recovered to win the tie just once – in the first round of the 1977/78 UEFA Cup, when they beat Olympiacos 5-1 in the return.
• Fourth in the Spanish Liga for the second successive season under coach Julen Lopetegui in 2020/21, Sevilla were runners-up in their UEFA Champions League group behind eventual winners Chelsea before bowing out in the round of 16 to Borussia Dortmund (2-3 h, 2-2 a).
• This season Sevilla’s UEFA Champions League campaign ended after six matches. They opened up with draws against each of their Group G opponents – 1-1 at home to Salzburg and away to Wolfsburg and 0-0 in Lille – before losing 1-2 at home to the French champions on Matchday 4. A 2-0 home win against Wolfsburg kept them in the hunt going into Matchday 6, but a 1-0 defeat in Salzburg left them in third place.
• Sevilla are appearing in the knockout phase of the UEFA Europa League for the seventh time. They have lifted the trophy on four of their previous six appearances – in 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16 with Unai Emery as head coach and in 2019/20 under Lopetegui – as well as winning the UEFA Cup back-to-back in 2005/06 and 2006/07. Their only defeats in 23 UEFA Europa League knockout phase ties both came after they played the second leg outside Spain – on away goals against Porto in the 2010/11 round of 32 (1-2 h, 1-0 a) and after extra time against Slavia Praha in the 2018/19 round of 16 (2-2 h, 3-4 a).
• Sevilla’s record on the road in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase, including fixtures at neutral venues, is W13 D6 L4, with victories in the last four, the last of them 3-2 against Inter in the 2019/20 final in Cologne. However, in European competition overall they are winless in their last four away fixtures (D3 L1), scoring just one goal – a penalty.
• Sevilla have won all but two of the 21 UEFA competition ties in which they claimed a home victory in the first leg, the sole exceptions when they failed to defend a one-goal advantage against Kaiserslautern in the 1982/83 UEFA Cup third round (1-0 h, 0-4 a) and Leicester City in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League round of 16 (2-1 h, 0-2 a). The only two previous occasions that they won their first home leg 3-1 came in their maiden European tie – against Benfica in the preliminary round of the 1957/58 European Champion Clubs’ Cup (0-0 a) – and their first ever outing in the UEFA Cup – against Levski Sofia in the 1982/83 first round (3-0 a).
UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Petar Bočkaj (Osijek), Mahir Emreli (Legia Warszawa)
Out: Duje Čop (Celje, loan), Dinko Horkaš (Posušje, loan), Marin Leovac (Osijek), Jakov-Anton Vasilj (Lokomotiva Zagreb, loan)
In: Jesús Corona (Porto), Nemanja Gudelj, Anthony Martial (Manchester United, loan)
Out: Suso, Erik Lamela, Óscar Rodríguez (Getafe, loan)
Links and trivia
• Rakitić was a Croatian international from 2007 to 2019, winning 106 caps. He played briefly for his country alongside current Dinamo players Dominik Livaković and Bruno Petković.
• Livaković kept goal for Dinamo in both of their 2016/17 UEFA Champions League group stage defeats by Sevilla. Dino Perić was a substitute in the loss in Spain.
• Sevilla’s Nemanja Gudelj and Marcos Acuña are former Sporting CP team-mates of Dinamo’s Stefan Ristovski and Josip Mišić.
• Jesús Navas scored Spain’s late winner against Croatia in the teams’ decisive final group fixture at UEFA EURO 2012.
• Dinamo’s new winter signing Mahir Emreli played for Legia Warszawa in the first half of this season, scoring seven European goals for the Polish club including the winner at home to Leicester City (1-0) in the UEFA Europa League group stage.
• Dinamo are one of five reigning national champions and four current domestic cup winners involved in the UEFA Europa League knockout round play-offs. They are also the only survivors from the 2020/21 quarter-finals competing in this season’s knockout phase.
• This is Dinamo’s 16th European game this season – the joint most, alongside Sheriff, of the 16 teams competing in the UEFA Europa League knockout round play-offs.
• Sevilla are one of two former UEFA Europa League winners competing in the knockout round play-offs, alongside 2010/11 victors Porto. Two other participants, Napoli and Zenit, have also, like Sevilla, lifted the UEFA Cup.
• Sevilla’s first-leg win was their 43rd in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final; only fellow Spaniards Villarreal (49) boast more. Likewise, Sevilla are the competition’s second-highest scorers with 132 goals – 20 fewer than Villarreal.
• Dinamo’s record in two UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W1 L1:
5-6 v Sheriff, 2010/11 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
6-5 v CFR Cluj, 2020/21 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
• Sevilla’s record in six UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W5 L1:
4-3 v PAOK, 1990/91 UEFA Cup first round
3-1 v Espanyol, 2006/07 UEFA Cup final
2-3 v Fenerbahçe, 2007/08 UEFA Champions League round of 16
4-3 v Real Betis, 2013/14 UEFA Europa League round of 16
4-2 v Benfica, 2013/14 UEFA Europa League final
5-4 v Athletic Club, 2015/16 UEFA Europa League quarter-final
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