Rome chosen as the venue for Arsenal vs Benfica in the Europa League round of 32.
Arsenal will play Benfica for both of their round of 32 ties at a neutral venue (i.e Rome). Due to the traveling restrictions of the UK and Portugal, Arsenal will have to quarantine themselves for 10 days after returning from Benfica’s home stadium. And given the busy schedule of fixtures, Arsenal simply can’t afford to self-isolate for these many days.
Since the venue will be neutral, there will be no away and home goals rule for the tie. If this were not the case, the first game would have been played at Benfica on February 18th followed by a reverse fixture at Emirates on February 25th. This is not the case anymore and both the teams will play at Lazio and Roma’s Stadio Olimpico on similar dates.
According to journalist Tancredi Palmeri, Rome has been confirmed as the venue for both legs. However, it is not yet confirmed that the away/home goals rule will stand or not for obvious reasons. And if the stadium stays put, Arsenal vs Benfica’s match will have to be scheduled at a much earlier time than scheduled. Roma has a game at 20:00PM. on the same day, these two sides clash at 17:55 PM. However, if Stadio Flaminio is chosen as the Warfield, changes in timings would not be necessary.
Benfica-Arsenal to be played in Rome due to covid travel restrictions between UK and Portugal.
Real Sociedad-Manchester United could be played in Italy, likely in Turin
— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) February 8, 2021
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There is still some cloud over the matter and without further confirmation at this point of time, if Arsenal play at Stadio Olimpico, we can expect a similar instance happening to that of last season where the Gunners played Vitoria Guimaraes at 15:50.
Apart from this fixture, Manchester United’s tie against Real Sociedad is also expected to shift to Turin, Italy. And Liverpool to play RB Leipzig in Hungary because of the Covid protocols in Germany and the UK.
Arsenal would not mind playing in Stadio Olimpico as their last visit to this stadium in 2009 was a penalty shootout victory over Roma. I agree that it’s a different team now, but every omen are gratifying for Arsenal to gain their confidence while going into the tie.