Manchester United will face Spanish side Real Betis in the Europa League last 16, marking the Red Devils’ 59th encounter with Spanish opposition since their first match against Valencia in 1982.
This season alone, United have already played Spanish teams Real Sociedad and Barcelona. Despite drawing 2-2 with Barcelona at Camp Nou, United defeated the Catalan club 2-1 at Old Trafford.
Real Betis, who are one of the in-form teams in Spain, have lost four of their previous six European games against English opponents. However, they have won their last two matches, including a comeback victory against Elche and a draw against Real Madrid.
Their midfielder Nabil Fekir has been ruled out for the rest of the season and beyond with an ACL tear, while Sergio Canales is also struggling with fitness.
United’s manager Erik ten Hag has a job on his hands to eradicate the memory of their recent 7-0 thrashing by Liverpool at Anfield, which ended their slim hopes of catching Arsenal at the top of the Premier League.
Real Betis manager Manuel Pellegrini has previously faced United four times in European competition when he was Villarreal’s manager, with all four games ending goalless in the group stages of the Champions League in 2005-06 and 2008-09.
Pellegrini’s record against United in the Premier League is slightly better, winning five, drawing one, and losing three during his time with Manchester City and West Ham.
United has not lost the first leg of any of their last eight European knockout ties, winning four and drawing four. In their 11 matches when the first leg has been at home in a UEFA Cup/Europa League knockout tie, they have lost only one, which was against Athletic Club in March 2012.
Real Betis has won only one of their last seven knockout matches in the Europa League and is looking to change that record. Despite the loss of Fekir, Betis will be hoping to progress to the next round. Their three knockout wins in the competition have all come away from home.
Manchester United and Real Betis are set to meet for the first time in their history.
While United has had mixed results against Spanish opposition, they will be looking to continue their strong European form against Real Betis, who are in good form despite recent injuries.