AC Milan kick-off their Europa League group stage in Glasgow against Scottish champions, Celtic. Normally, this is a nightmare situation for away teams, as Celtic fans are known for being some of the most passionate in football. Of course, this won’t be the case during COVID-19. With that being the case, it’s no easy match as Celtic continue to be a consistent squad.
AC Milan v Celtic Europa League Preview
The Rossoneri could not have asked for a better start to the season. They are currently first in Serie A for the first time since March 2012. They have 12 points from four matches, winning all of them. The most impressive statistic is that they have a goal difference of plus-eight. Milan have scored nine goals and only conceded one, with that being to a world-class striker in Romelu Lukaku during the Milan derby.
Their form, for now, is also not a fluke. They had a relatively easy first three games but won them all with a combined score of 7-0. Milan, however, proved their talent with a 2-1 victory over Inter.
Milan are also three for three in their Europa League qualifying matches. They started with a 2-0 win over Shamrock Rovers, then won 3-2 over Bodo/Glimt (and proceeded to purchase one of their young stars in Jens Petter Hauge), and then won a mindblowing 9-8 penalty shoot-out over Rio Ave.
Likely Milan Line-up
The Rossoneri will face a few tough decisions for this game. First of all, star attacking players in Hakan Calhanoglu and Ante Rebic will be out due to injury. Milan follow up this match with a pivotal showdown against Roma on Monday, so resting some players may also be on their mind.
The defence will likely stay the same. This will feature Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal, Davide Calabria and Theo Hernandez as fullbacks, and Simon Kjaer and Alessio Romagnoli as centre-backs. The match will be crucial for Romagnoli as he continues to ease himself back into the starting XI after his extended injury absence.
Sandro Tonali will likely take Ismael Bennacer‘s spot in the team. Bennacer is one of Milan’s most important players and will need to be available against Roma. Tonali, however, is a rising talent and this will be a big match for him. Starting alongside him should be Franck Kessie. The Ivorian is as important as Bennacer, but the difference is Kessie has the motor to play every game of the season. Celtic, as previously mentioned, are no easy task so one of the two regular midfielders will have to play.
The three players behind the lone striker will be Alexis Saelemaekers on the right, Brahim Diaz in the middle, and Rafael Leão on the right. Saelemaekers is a solid utility player, and Diaz is a fine substitute for Calhanoglu. Leão’s been on fantastic form and will be a focal point on the wing.
The striker, of course, will be none other than Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He’s averaging two goals a game in Italy and will look to close this match out as soon as possible.
Prediction: Celtic 1-2 AC Milan
Milan are the better team overall, and Celtic won’t have a true ‘home advantage.’ Expect Ibrahimovic to score a goal and one moment of brilliance from either Diaz or Leão.
Celtic’s attack, however, is not to be taken lightly. Albian Ajeti and Leigh Griffiths are very capable players. Milan tends to let loose after getting a lead and expect Celtic to take advantage of that at least once.