Benfica have never lost a round of 16 tie but need to turn around a 1-0 first-leg defeat as Dinamo Zagreb come to Portugal.
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Benfica, who have played more UEFA Europa League knockout matches than any other club, must bounce back from a 1-0 reverse in Croatia if they are to maintain their perfect qualifying record in the competition's round of 16. Should Dinamo Zagreb avoid defeat in Portugal for the first time in seven visits, they will be through to their first European quarter-final in almost half a century.
• Benfica crossed over to the UEFA Europa League having finished third in their UEFA Champions League group, behind Bayern München and Ajax, with seven points. They overcame another autumn UEFA Champions League participant in the round of 32, eliminating Galatasaray 2-1 on aggregate.
• Dinamo came through a European group stage for the first time this term, going unbeaten through UEFA Europa League Group D with four wins and two draws, before extending their involvement with a round of 32 comeback success against Viktoria Plzeň.
• A 38th-minute penalty from Bruno Petković was the difference between the two sides at the Stadion Maksimir. It was the first goal scored by a Dinamo player in four meetings with Benfica and brought about the Lisbon club's first defeat in six matches against Croatian clubs.
• The clubs' paths have crossed twice previously in UEFA competition, Benfica beating Dinamo 2-0 on aggregate (0-0 away, 2-0 home) in the 1980/81 European Cup Winners' Cup first round and 2-0 at home again in a 2004/05 UEFA Cup group stage encounter.
• Benfica's only other encounters with Croatian opposition came in the 1994/95 UEFA Champions League group stage, when they drew 0-0 away to Hajduk Split and beat them 2-1 at home en route to qualifying for the quarter-finals.
• Dinamo have been defeated without scoring on all six of their visits to Portugal, most recently going down 3-0 to Porto in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League group stage. Their three previous two-legged ties have all been lost after a second-leg defeat in Portugal.
• Portuguese Liga runners-up in 2017/18 after a club-record four successive league titles, Benfica kicked off their European season in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League with a 2-1 aggregate win against Fenerbahçe before PAOK were defeated in the play-offs (1-1 home, 4-1 away) to send the Lisbon club into the group stage for the ninth season in a row – and 14th in all.
• Having finished bottom of their group with zero points in 2017/18, this time round the Eagles won home and away against AEK Athens to claim third place in Group E, their only other point coming in a 1-1 draw at home to Ajax. Galatasaray were overcome in Benfica's first UEFA Europa League encounters since the 2014 final, a 2-1 win in Istanbul preceding a 0-0 Lisbon draw.
• Benfica are in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for a record-equalling fifth time (along with Valencia and Zenit), their four previous ties having all been successful – against Marseille in 2009/10 (1-1 home, 2-1 away), Paris Saint-Germain in 2010/11 (2-1 home, 1-1 away), Bordeaux in 2012/13 (1-0 home, 3-2 away) and Tottenham in 2013/14 (3-1 away, 2-2 home). They were therefore unbeaten in their first eight round of 16 matches before losing in Zagreb.
• Benfica have been defeated in 11 of their last 20 European fixtures, but the five wins and four draws have all been this season. They have not scored more than one goal in any of their last 13 European games in Lisbon, managing just nine in total. However, they have never lost at home in any phase of the UEFA Europa League, registering 17 wins and three draws.
• Benfica have lost the first leg away from home 34 times in UEFA competition and have recovered to win the tie on 11 occasions. Of the 11 instances where they have gone down 1-0 they have won five ties, most recently against Fenerbahçe in the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League semi-finals (3-1 home). On the last such occasion, however, in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, they were eliminated after a 2-2 draw against Bayern München.
• Dinamo made amends for a rare trophy-less 2016/17 campaign by winning the Croatian league and cup double in 2017/18 – their third in four seasons. They also appeared to be heading for a third UEFA Champions League group stage in four years when they eliminated Hapoel Beer Sheva and Astana then drew 1-1 in the first leg of their play-off away to Young Boys, but a 1-2 defeat in Zagreb sent them into the UEFA Europa League instead.
• Dinamo won their first four group games – 4-1 at home to Fenerbahçe, 2-0 at Anderlecht and twice against Spartak Trnava (2-1 away, 3-1 home) to secure qualification with two games to spare – both of which ended goalless. A first defeat of the campaign, 1-2 in Plzen, put Dinamo up against it in the round of 32 but they recovered with a 3-0 win in Zagreb.
• This season is the first time Dinamo have qualified from a European group stage, at the 14th attempt, having never previously stretched their involvement into the spring under the flag of Croatia. The last time they were active in the latter stages of a UEFA competition was as a Yugoslav club in the 1969/70 European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals.
• Dinamo's defeat at Plzen in the round of 32 first leg ended the Croatian champions' eight-match unbeaten run on the road in Europe (W3 D5), the matchday two win in Brussels having finally ended a sequence of 19 successive away defeats in UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League group games that had lasted almost eight years.
• Dinamo have recorded 18 aggregate victories in the 22 UEFA ties where they have won the first leg at home, including each of the last 15, twice with 1-0 scorelines. However, two of the four eliminations have been by Portuguese opposition, Sporting CP recovering from a 1-0 defeat in Zagreb to win 3-0 in Lisbon in the first round of the 1982/83 European Champion Clubs' Cup – Dinamo's debut in the competition – and Porto winning on away goals in the first round of the following season's European Cup Winners' Cup, when Dinamo followed up a 2-1 home win with a 1-0 away defeat.
Links and trivia
• Benfica's Haris Seferović and Dinamo's Mario Gavranović are both Swiss international strikers.
• Seferović played briefly with Izet Hajrović at Grasshoppers in 2009/10.
• Benfica's Filip Krovinović, who started the first leg, is Croatian and played alongside Dominik Livaković and Ivan Šunjić for city rivals NK Zagreb. Krovinović played youth football for Dinamo and made his Zagreb debut in a derby against Dinamo in 2012/13.
• Benfica have played more matches in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase than any other club (35). They reached the quarter-finals in 2010, the semi-finals in 2011, and successive finals in 2013 and 2014 – which they lost, respectively, to Chelsea in Amsterdam (1-2) and Sevilla in Turin (0-0, 2-4 on penalties). In contrast, they have played just six games in the group stage and none since 2009/10.
• Dinamo are one of four clubs involved in the round of 16 who have never previously participated at this juncture of the UEFA Europa League; Slavia Praha, Eintracht Frankfurt and Rennes are the others.
• Dinamo are one of two current domestic champions in the round of 16, together with Salzburg. Six others were eliminated in the round of 32.
• This is Dinamo's 16th match in Europe this season. They had never previously managed more than 12 games in a continental campaign.
• Benfica striker Jonas's next appearance in UEFA club competition will be his 50th.
• Dinamo came from behind to defeat closest rivals Rijeka 3-1 at home in the Croatian league last weekend, a result that increased their lead at the top of the standings to 17 points.
• Benfica's record in four UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W2 L2:
4-1 v Torpedo Moskva, 1977/78 European Champion Clubs' Cup first round
5-6 v PSV Eindhoven, 1987/88 European Champion Clubs' Cup final
4-1 v PAOK, 1999/2000 UEFA Cup second round
2-4 v Sevilla, 2013/14 UEFA Europa League final
• Dinamo's record in one UEFA penalty shoot-out is W0 L1:
5-6 v Sheriff, 2010/11 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
• Bruno Lage was appointed as Benfica coach on 14 January until the end of the season, having previously been in charge of the club's B team then served in an interim capacity following Rui Vitória's dismissal earlier that month. On 19 February, he agreed a contract until 2023. The 42-year-old from Setubal (also José Mourinho's home town) has never previously served as a head coach in the top flight, although he has considerable experience in auxiliary roles. He was Benfica's youth coach from 2004–12 and subsequently worked in English football as the assistant to Carlos Carvalhal at Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea.
• A former Croatian international midfielder, capped nine times between 2001 and 2004, Nenad Bjelica played for Osijek in his homeland, winning the Croatian Cup in 1999, but spent most of his career abroad in Spain, Germany and Austria. He began coaching while still playing in the latter for Kärnten and had spells in Italy with Spezia and in Poland with Lech Poznań before being appointed Dinamo Zagreb boss in May 2018 – just days before the club completed a league and cup double.