Arsenal to play ‘at home’ in Athens but Manchester United to stay at Old Trafford as UEFA confirm Europa League last-32 venues

Arsenal are facing a bizarre ‘home’ outing in Athens, while Manchester United get to stay at Old Trafford, with UEFA confirming the new venues for the Europa League last-32.
The Gunners will face the Portuguese giants in the first knockout stage after absolutely smashing their group, winning all six games against Molde, Rapid Vienna and Dundalk.
While they may have struggled in the Premier League this season, Arsenal have been faultless in the Europa LeagueSvein Ove Ekornesvåg / NTB
Benfica will therefore be their biggest test in Europe this season by far, but the teams will have another factor in the mix with neither club playing a game at home.
UEFA recently announced a number of knockout stage matches in the Champions League and Europa League will be forced to be staged at neutral venues over coronavirus regulations of certain nations, which have no exceptions for elite sportsmen and women.
Arsenal’s clash with Benfica is one of the ties affected, and UEFA have confirmed the games will be held in two different countries: Italy and Greece.
Arteta will have to contend with two away trips as Arsenal aim to go further in EuropeAFP
The first leg, which is Benfica’s ‘home’ game, will be staged at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on February 18, at 8pm (UK time).
The second leg, Arsenal’s ‘home’ fixture will then be played at Olympiacos’ Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Athens, on February 25.
UEFA have also confirmed that away goals will count double in the event of a draw over two legs – despite technically EVERY goal that will be scored across the tie being an ‘away goal’.
Manchester United’s last-32 clash against Real Sociedad has also been affected, but the Red Devils will at least still get the chance to play at Old Trafford after only their first-leg was moved.
United were due to travel to Spain to face Real Sociedad next Thursday, but they will now take on Sociedad at Juventus’ Allianz Stadium in Turin following Spanish Government restrictions on travellers entering the country from England, while there are no current restrictions to prevent people from entering the UK from Spain.
Solskjaer’s Man United side have the bonus of playing at Old Trafford in their last-32 tieGetty Images – Getty
However, Government rules regarding travel between the UK and Portugal mean neither of Arsenal’s games can take place at either club’s home stadium, which is who both the first and second legs have been relocated.
Arsenal would have been forced to isolate for ten days after returning from Portugal – with the usual exceptions for elite athletes scrapped – while Benfica would not have been able to enter the UK at all.
The developments come after Liverpool and Manchester City also had Champions League ties due to be played in Germany moved to Budapest.
Liverpool’s clash with Leipzig on February 16 and City’s encounter with Borussia Monchengladbach on February 24 will now both take place at the Puskas Arena in the Hungarian capital on their respective scheduled dates.

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