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Europa League: Big Match Feature: Valencia v Arsenal

Valencia will need to prolong their excellent run of home successes in the Uefa Europa League if they are overturn a 1-3 first-leg deficit against Arsenal as the two clubs battle it out for a place in the Baku final.

Valencia’s autumn campaign was in the Uefa Champions League, where they finished third behind Juventus and Manchester United in Group H (W2 D2 L2). They were unbeaten in their six Uefa Europa League matches until the first-leg reverse at Arsenal, having knocked out Celtic and Krasnodar before claiming quarterfinal victories in both legs (3-1 away, 2-0 home) against fellow Spanish side Villarreal.

This season Arsenal cruised through to the knockout phase from Group E, dropping just two points as they qualified with two games to spare, but they had a scare in both the round of 32 and round of 16 against BATE Borisov and Rennes respectively before winning home (2-0) and away (1-0) in the quarterfinal against Napoli.

Previous Meetings

Mouctar Diakhaby rewarded Valencia’s early dominance in north London with a close-range header, but two strikes from Alexandre Lacazette, the quarterfinal match-winner in Naples, turned the game in Arsenal’s favour before halftime. In the 90th minute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made it 3-1 with a back-post volley from Sead Kolašinac’s cross.

The clubs have been paired together in Uefa competition on three previous occasions, Valencia coming out on top each time.

The Spanish club defeated the Gunners 5-4 on penalties in the 1979/80 European Cup Winners’ Cup final – the first European final to be decided in that manner – after a 0-0 draw in Brussels, Graham Rix missing the vital kick.

Valencia then eliminated Arsenal from the 2000/01 Uefa Champions League quarterfinals on away goals, following a 1-2 defeat in London with a 1-0 home win thanks to John Carew’s goal. Two years later the Norwegian striker scored twice more as Valencia, then the champions of Spain, defeated their English counterparts 2-1 at Mestalla in the final game of the second group stage to advance to the quarterfinals at their visitors’ expense, the earlier game in north London having ended goalless.

Valencia’s record in 38 Uefa matches against English opposition is W12 D16 L10. They have won six of their nine two-legged ties, the most recent against Stoke City in the 2011/12 Uefa Europa League round of 32 when they recorded two 1-0 victories. At home they have won nine of their 18 matches, losing just four, although all of those defeats have come in the last seven such fixtures.

Their one previous European semifinal against an English club resulted in a 3-0 aggregate victory against Leeds United in the 2000/01 Uefa Champions League (0-0 away, 3-0 home).

Arsenal have now won 11 of their 34 Uefa fixtures against Spanish opposition, their 15 defeats including three in finals – against Valencia in 1979/80, Zaragoza in the 1994/95 European Cup Winners’ Cup and Barcelona in the 2005/06 Uefa Champions League.

The Gunners have won just twice in 15 fixtures against Spanish hosts, most recently against Real Madrid (1-0) in the 2005/06 Uefa Champions League round of 16. They have lost on their last four visits to Spain, three defeats in a row to Barcelona preceding last season’s 1-0 reverse at Atlético. As a result the Gunners have lost their last four twolegged ties against Liga sides, having won each of the four prior to that sequence.

Form Guide


Fourth in the Spanish Liga in 2017/18, Valencia qualified for an 11th Uefa Champions League group stage campaign after two consecutive seasons without European football.

Valencia lost twice without scoring against Juventus in the autumn but took four points off both Manchester United and Young Boys, beating each at home and drawing away. Celtic were brushed aside in the Uefa Europa League round of 32 (2-0 away, 1-0 home) before substitute Gonçalo Guedes’s dramatic late strike in Russia knocked out Krasnodar 3-2 on aggregate. Villarreal were then dispatched in style in the quarterfinal.

This is the Spanish side’s record-equalling third appearance in the Uefa Europa League semifinals, the previous two having both been lost to fellow Spanish opposition, against Atlético in 2011/12 (2-4 away, 0-1 home) and on away goals to Sevilla in 2013/14 (0-2 away, 3-1 home).

Valencia are undefeated in 11 Uefa Europa League home games, with wins in all of the last eight during which they have scored 22 goals and conceded just three. The last team to defeat them at Mestalla in this competition were a Premier League side, Swansea City racking up a 3-0 win on matchday one in the 2013/14 group stage.

Of the 19 Uefa competition ties in which Valencia have lost away in the first leg, they have recovered to win on aggregate on ten occasions. When the defeat has been 3-1, however, they have lost all three ties. Indeed, the only time that they have come back from a first-leg away defeat of a margin greater than one goal was in the 2013/14 Uefa Europa League quarterfinal, when they overturned a 0-3 defeat at Basle with a 5-0 home victory after extra time. That remains the biggest second-leg comeback in the Uefa Europa League knockout phase.


Uefa Champions League ever-presents for 19 successive seasons until last term, Arsenal reached the Uefa Europa League semifinals at the first attempt, going out to eventual winners Atlético.

This season they breezed through their group, an opening 4-2 win at home to Vorskla Poltava preceding four wins and a draw in which they conceded no further goals.

That competition record-equalling run of five clean sheets ended at BATE, where they lost 1-0 before recovering to win 3-0 at home. It was a similar comeback tale in the round of 16, a 3-1 defeat at Rennes preceding another 3-0 home victory, before a 1-0 win at Napoli supplemented a first-leg 2-0 home win.

Arsenal’s only previous Uefa Europa League semifinal came last season against Atlético, when they drew 1-1 at home, Lacazette scoring, before losing 1-0 in Madrid. It was the Gunners’ first European semifinal since the 2008/09 Uefa Champions League, when they were beaten 4-1 on aggregate by Manchester United (0-1 away, 1-3 home).

Their last semifinal victory came against Spanish opposition as they defeated Villarreal 1-0 at home and on aggregate in the 2005/06 Uefa Champions League.

The 1999/2000 Uefa Cup runners-up won all three away fixtures in this season’s group stage before losing at BATE and Rennes and then beating Napoli in Italy. Their overall away record in two Uefa Europa League campaigns is now W8 D1 L4, with 21 goals scored and ten conceded, the victory in Naples having ended a four-game winless streak on their travels in the knockout phase (D1 L3).

Arsenal have won the first leg at home in 19 Uefa competition ties and have prevailed in 17 of them, most recently against Napoli in this season’s quarterfinal. The only two times that they have failed to qualify following first-leg victories in north London came after 2-1 scorelines, the first of them to Valencia in that 2000/01 Uefa Champions League quarterfinal, the second also against Spanish opposition when they lost to Barcelona (1-3 away) in the round of 16 of the same competition ten years later.

Links and Trivia

Arsenal’s head coach Unai Emery had four seasons in charge of Valencia from 2008 to 2012, overseeing 220 matches of which 107 were victories. He led Valencia to the Uefa Europa League quarterfinals in 2009/10 and the 2011/12 semifinals.

Emery also steered Sevilla to a Uefa Europa League semifinal victory against Valencia in 2013/14 – the last time Los Blanquinegros reached the last four of the competition.

Emery’s record in 14 matches against current Valencia coach Marcelino is now W8 D1 L5.

Kevin Gameiro was a member of Emery’s side in each of Sevilla’s three successive Uefa Europa League triumphs. The French striker, who celebrates his 32nd birthday on the day of this second leg, scored the decisive penalty in the 2014 final shoot-out against Benfica and the equaliser against Liverpool in the 2016 final. He also won the trophy last season with Atlético Madrid.

Valencia midfielder Francis Coquelin, who missed the first leg through suspension, was an Arsenal academy graduate and first-team player from 2011–18. His teammate Gabriel played for the Gunners from 2015–17.

Shkodran Mustafi joined Arsenal from Valencia in 2016 after two seasons with the Spanish club. He made 64 Liga appearances, scoring six goals.

Nacho Monreal played for Osasuna (2006–11) and Málaga (2011–13) before joining Arsenal. His record against Valencia was W2 D1 L4.

Mesut Özil made 105 Liga appearances for Real Madrid, scoring 19 times, between 2010 and 2013. He was unbeaten in seven matches against Valencia in all competitions (W4 D3).

Monreal, Héctor Bellerín and Barcelona loanee Denis Suárez have all played for Spain, as have Valencia’s Rodrigo, Daniel Parejo and José Gayà.

In September 2018 Rodrigo scored Spain’s Uefa Nations League winner against England at Wembley (2-1).

2004 Uefa Cup winners Valencia are in the Uefa Europa League semifinals for a record-equalling third time, joining Atlético Madrid, Benfica and Sevilla on that mark.

Valencia are through to the final of the Copa del Rey in Seville, where they will face holders Barcelona on 25 May.

Arsenal are the only surviving team from last season’s Uefa Europa League semifinals, and only the third club – after Benfica and Sevilla – to have reached the last four in successive campaigns.

Arsenal are the only one of the four semifinalists yet to win the Uefa Cup or Uefa Europa League. They were defeated on penalties in the 2000 final by Galatasaray.

Valencia recorded their biggest win of the season when they won 6-2 at relegated Huesca on Sunday evening, Arsenal having earlier drawn 1-1 at home to Brighton. Those results leave both clubs in fifth place in their respective domestic leagues and therefore outside the qualifying bracket for the 2019/20 Uefa Champions League.

Penalty shoot-outs

• Valencia’s record in four Uefa penalty shoot-outs is W2 L2:

5-4 v Arsenal, 1979/80 European Cup Winners’ Cup final

4-5 v Bayern München, 2000/01 Uefa Champions League final

5-4 v Celtic, 2001/02 Uefa Cup third round

3-4 v Steaua Bucuresti, 2004/05 Uefa Cup round of 32

• Arsenal’s record in four Uefa penalty shoot-outs is W2 L2:

4-5 v Valencia, 1979/80 European Cup Winners’ Cup final

3-2 v Sampdoria, 1994/95 Uefa Cup Winners’ Cup semifinal

1-4 v Galatasaray, 1999/2000 Uefa Cup final

7-6 v Roma, 2008/09 Uefa Champions League round of 16

The Coaches

Marcelino’s career as a midfielder, which included representing Spain at youth and Under-21 level, was curtailed at the age of 28 by injury. As a coach, he worked his way up the Spanish leagues, stints with Zaragoza, Real Racing Club and Sevilla preceding an impressive three-and-a-half-year spell at Villarreal, whom he guided to promotion, three successive top-six Liga finishes and the 2015/16 Uefa Europa League semifinals. He was appointed by Valencia in May 2017.

After two years with Paris Saint-Germain that yielded seven domestic trophies, Unai Emery was appointed as Arsenal manager in May 2018, replacing the long-serving Arsène Wenger. The Spaniard oversaw Sevilla’s historic hat-trick of successes in the Uefa Europa League from 2013/14 to 2015/16, having assumed control following a fouryear tenure at Valencia and a brief stint at Spartak Moskva. He has been in charge of more Uefa Europa League games than any other coach, this being his 73rd. Supersport

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