Russian champions Zenit make a seventh appearance in the knockout phase as they host Real Betis, one of four Spanish clubs in the play-offs.
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Russian champions Zenit make a seventh appearance in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase as they host Real Betis, one of two clubs from Seville and four from Spain taking part in the knockout round play-offs.
• Zenit claimed third place in UEFA Champions League Group H during the autumn, 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. Betis, meanwhile, finished runners-up to Bayer Leverkusen in UEFA Europa League Group G with a game to spare.
• This is the clubs' first UEFA encounter.
• Zenit's record against Spanish clubs is W6 D6 L10, though they have lost only two of the 11 encounters in Russia (W4 D5) – albeit one of them in the most recent, 1-3 against Villarreal in the first leg of the 2018/19 UEFA Europa League round of 16. The St Petersburg side lost that tie 5-2 on aggregate, making their record in two-legged contests with Spanish teams W1 L4, the only success coming 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 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.
• 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 Matchday 2 win against Malmö is Zenit's only success in their last six European home games (D2 L3) and one of just three in the last ten (D2 L5). Their home record in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase, however, is W9 D2 L1, the sole defeat having come in the most recent such encounter, against Villarreal three seasons ago.
• 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 city rivals 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 have won only two of their last seven European fixtures on the road (D3 L2), but they remain unbeaten on their travels in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase (W2 D1).
UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Arsen Adamov (Ural Yekaterinburg), Yuri Alberto (Internacional), Ivan Sergeev (Krylya Sovetov Samara)
Out: Sardar Azmoun (Bayer Leverkusen)
In: Joel Robles, Youssouf Sabaly
Out: Paul Akouokou, Martín Montoya, Rober González (Las Palmas, loan)
Links and trivia
• Zenit defeated Real Sociedad 3-1 home and away in the 2017/18 UEFA Europa League group stage, Betis trio Sergio Canales, Willian José and Juanmi all featuring in both matches for the Spanish club.
• Wendel (Zenit) and William Carvalho (Betis) were team-mates at Sporting CP in the second half of 2017/18.
• Betis midfielder Andrés 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.