Europe League Group Stage Matchday 5

Zlatan of AC Milan

AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after he scored his side’s second goal during a Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Verona, at the San Siro Stadium, in Milan, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

  • Itโ€™s UEFA Europa League Matchday 5 this week with, among the ties, Celtic traveling to Milan in Group H
  • AC Milan are locked in a three-way battle for the top two places but Celticโ€™s race is already run
  • We list the odds, preview the game and offer some best bets here

Matchday 5 of the 2020-21 UEFA Europa League is incoming, with a full schedule of games on Thursday. Group H has developed into a three-way battle for the two qualifying places between AC Milan, Lille, and Sparta Prague, with Celtic the only team no longer realistically in the race.

The Scottish champions are however looking to finish strongly to reinstil some pride as they travel to Milan on December 3, KO 12:55 pm EST.

We list the odds below, preview the game, and offer the best bet.

AC Milan vs Celtic UEL Odds

Matchup Spread Moneyline Total
AC Milan vs Celtic MIL -1 (-205) | CEL +1 (+160) MIL -305 | CEL +700 | DRAW +450 Ov 2.5 (-220) | Un 2.5 (+170)

All odds taken Dec 2 at DraftKings

The Rossoneri on Fire

AC Milanโ€™s season, both domestically and in Europe, has been outstanding and they currently sit top of Serie A. Their only defeat of the season so far came in the Europa League in a surprising 3-0 home defeat by Lille, but overall itโ€™s been a flying first quarter of the 2020-21 campaign for the Rossoneri.

They still have work to do, however, to qualify from whatโ€™s turned out to be a really tough Europa League group, and with a 2-1-1 record they currently sit in second โ€“ a point behind Lille and a point ahead of third-placed Sparta Prague. Two wins in their final two group games will guarantee progress to the knockout stages but against a struggling Celtic side who have been stung by a lot of criticism of late, this wonโ€™t be the easy game it appears on paper.

Tough Start for the Hoops

Milanโ€™s preparation for this game was ideal โ€“ a comfortable 2-0 win over Fiorentina โ€“ although they will be keen to rediscover their winning habit in Europe after the double-header with Lille produced just a draw and a defeat, but just that one loss in their last 29 games tells the story of a team full of confidence and in fine form.

Celtic, meanwhile, are having a tough time and come into this off the back of two straight defeats. For a team that, domestically at least, is used to winning, two wins and five losses in their last 10 games, including one clean sheet, is a disastrous run; one thatโ€™s seen the pressure heaped on manager Neil Lennon.

At the weekend, the Hoops were beaten 2-0 at home by Ross County in the League Cup โ€“ the eighth time in 10 games they have conceded two goals or more โ€“ and so will head to Milan with fragile confidence but with a desire to bounce back.

2021 UEFA Europa League Odds Tracker

AC Milan vs Celtic Head-to-Head Stats

4 / 2 UEL 2020-21 Games played / Wins 4/ 0
1 Draws 1
1 Losses 3
7 Goals scored 5
5 Goals conceded 13
7 Points 1
86% Passing accuracy 80%
14 Shots on target 15

Only One Win for Celtic

These two have previously met ten times, with the Scottish champions winning just once โ€“ back in October 2007 โ€“ and so Celtic have more than just a poor run of form to overcome if they are to get anything from this game. While they still have a mathematical hope of progressing through to the knockout phase, the Hoopsโ€™ chances are virtually nil given they are relying on Sparta Prague and Milan not winning either of their remaining two games.

In their previous meeting in the group, at Celtic Park in October, Milan ran out comfortable 3-1 winners and thereโ€™s little here to suggest anything other than a Milan win, not least Celticโ€™s terrible recent record in Europe.

No Zlatan but Pioli Back on Bench

Celtic boss Lennon also has injury worries ahead of this game with Shane Duffy a doubt after suffering a knee injury, along with fellow defender Christopher Jullien whoโ€™s also doubtful with a long-term back problem. Mohamed Elyounoussi and James Forrest also miss out but Jeremie Frimpong returns after missing the Ross County game through suspension.

Milan coach Stefano Pioli and his assistant Giacomo Murelli will be back in the technical area after recovering from coronavirus but will be without the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Samu Castillejo and Rafael Leao. On a more positive note, Alexis Saelemaekers could return to the team and Ismael Bennacer is back in training and has a chance of making the squad.

Itโ€™s hard to see anything other than a home win here but with little value in the -205 on offer for the straight Milan win, for me, a better bet is under 2.5 goals with Celtic almost certain to set up to be solid and hard to beat.

Pick: Under 2.5 goals (+170)

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Gary Gowers

Soccer Sports Writer