Arsenal vs Benfica Europa League Live Football Score 18 Feb 2021
Two European giants aiming to maintain their unbeaten records in the 2020-21 Europa League do battle at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico on Thursday as Benfica play Arsenal in their ‘home’ leg.The Portuguese outfit qualified from Group D as runners-up to set up a last-32 tie with Arsenal, who swept aside the competition in Group B to progress in first place.
Jorge Jesus’s men warmed up for this game with a disappointing 1-1 draw against Moreirense, where Haris Seferovic took his tally to 12 for the season in all competitions before Yan restored parity for the hosts, and Benfica have now won just one of their last six Primeira Liga outings, drawing four of them.The fourth-placed Aguias now find themselves 13 points adrift of runaway leaders Sporting Lisbon after 19 games, despite having lost just three league matches all season, but at the very least, they head into the first leg on a four-game unbeaten streak following success in the Taca de Portugal earlier this month.
Jesus witnessed his side navigate their Europa League group-stage campaign unbeaten, but as has been the case with their top-flight fortunes, failure to convert draws into wins saw them qualify in second behind Rangers, although the 18 goals that they notched up was the third-highest across all groups behind Bayer Leverkusen and their midweek opponents Arsenal. With the away goals rule still in play despite the fixture being moved due to coronavirus travel restrictions, Benfica’s rearguard must quickly find their resolve if they are to keep Arsenal at bay, but that will be easier said than done against a rejuvenated Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Benfica vs Arsenal team news
Arsenal have Kieran Tierney back in training this week, but it remains to be seen whether the Scot is ready to play after a month out, while Thomas Partey is expected to miss out.
Mikel Arteta handed a first Premier League start to Martin Odegaard in the win over Leeds on Saturday, but Nicolas Pepe seems likely to come back into the side, while Rob Holding could return at centre-back.
It also remains to be seen whether Arteta starts his No1 goalkeeper Bernd Leno, or hands a European debut to January signing Mat Ryan.
Benfica right-backs Andre Almeida and Gilberto are both set to miss the Europa League encounter through injury with Jardel also a long-term absentee.
There will be some familiar faces in the Benfica ranks too with former Premier League players Jan Vertonghen, Nicolas Otamendi and Adel Taarabt expected to feature.Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey will miss the last-32 clash but Kieran Tierney has trained and is in the squad after recovering from a leg injury.
Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has also travelled with the squad to Rome, where the Europa League tie will take place due to coronavirus travel restrictions, after he was pictured getting a tattoo last week.