Arsenal will play both legs of their Europa League tie with Benfica at neutral venues, according to reports, due to travel restrictions.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03: Pablo Mari of Arsenal celebrates with his team mates after scoring their team's second goal during the UEFA Europa League Group B stage match between Arsenal FC and Rapid Wien at Emirates Stadium on December 03, 2020 in London, England. A limited number of fans are welcomed back to stadiums to watch elite football across England. This was following easing of restrictions on spectators in tiers one and two areas only. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: Pablo Mari of Arsenal celebrates with his teammates after scoring their team’s second goal on December 03, 2020. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, reports suggested Arsenal and Benfica would contest the first leg of their Europa League tie in Rome, due to travel restrictions between the UK and Portugal. This has now been confirmed.

As things stand, even elite sportspeople aren’t allowed to travel directly from Portugal to the UK, as all flights are currently suspended. Visitors who have been to Portugal in the previous 10 days cannot enter the UK, even if they travel via another country.

The solution is for the first leg to be played in Rome. However, the Evening Standard wrote on Tuesday morning that the second leg would also take place at a neutral venue, with discussions ongoing around the exact location.

This has also now been confirmed by Arsenal, who write that the ‘home’ fixture will take place at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Athens.

The away-goals rule will still function as normal, with the first leg considered as the home leg for Benfica despite the neutral venue.

The extra travel isn’t going to do Arsenal much good in what is already a busy fixture list. At least both teams will need to make the trip, so neither will have an unfair advantage for this particular tie.

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