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March 27, 2023

Champions League: Milan determined to avoid Arsenal repeat

AC Milan will be anxious not to repeat the mistakes that have led to their UEFA Champions League exits at the hands of Premier League opponents in recent years when they welcome Arsenal FC tonight in the Champions League round of 16, according to uefa.com.

The encounter four years ago, when Milan were the reigning champions, was the teams’ first in the UEFA Champions League. The London leg ended goalless with Arsene Wenger’s team progressing thanks to late goals from Cesc Fabregas (84) and Emmanuel Adebayor (90+2) at San Siro.

It was the first time Milan had been beaten by English visitors. In 11 previous competitive contests Milan had won seven and drawn four, that sequence including a 2-0 win against Arsenal in the UEFA Super Cup in February 1995, lifting the trophy by the same aggregate score.

Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat at Olympiacos FC on matchday six – they were already assured of finishing as Group F winners – was their first of the campaign. Their other away games ended in a draw at Borussia Dortmund and a win at Olympique de Marseille.

The Gunners have won three of their last 12 European games on the road including the play-off victory at Udinese.

Massimiliano Allegri’s Milan won their first two home games in Group H against FC Viktoria Plzen and FC BATE Borisov but lost 3-2 against FC Barcelona on matchday five.

In the other game of the day, FC Zenit St Petersburg welcomes Benfica Lisabona, after a goalless draw at FC Porto earned FC Zenit St Petersburg a UEFA Champions League round of 16. Zenit captain Aleksandr Anyukov said it had given the Russian champions a good measure of what lies ahead when they take on Benfica. “They are basically the same team as Porto, and they are going to play pretty much in the same way, I think,” he told UEFA.com. “The players may be different but everything else is the same.”

Jorge Jesus’s Benfica lead the way in the Portuguese league, ahead of Porto, and knockout phase debutants Zenit have been eager to size them up. “They are equal to Porto. They play the same fast, offensive and highly skilful football and the players are of a similar standard. Both our teams will have chances, so we’ll see what comes out of it,” said defender Anyukov – who has been watching videos of the Eagles in action. “It’s 50-50.”

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