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Lille boss Galtier says Milan are top dogs as Napoli seek to rename stadium in Maradona's honour

Lille coach Christophe Galtier claims his side will start their Europa League clash against AC Milan as underdogs despite beating the Italians 3-0 earlier in November.
Lille coach Christophe Galtier claims his side will start their Europa League clash against AC Milan as underdogs despite beating the Italians 3-0 earlier in November. FRANCOIS LO PRESTI POOL/AFP/Archives
2 min

Lille boss Christophe Galtier played down his side’s chances of victory in their Europa League clash against AC Milan on Thursday night.

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"You are never a favourite when you are Lille and you play Milan,” said Galtier ahead of the Ligue 1 side’s fourth game in the group stages of the 2020/21 competition.

Lille pulverized Milan 3-0 at the San Siro on 5 November. Yusuf Yazici was the star of the show with a hat trick and similar pyrotechnics at the Stade Pierre Mauroy will secure a place in the last 32 knockout stages of the tournament.

However Galtier will be without the right-back Zeki Celik and midfielder Renato Sanches.

"What happened in Milan is a reflection of the quality of our team's play,” said Lille winger Luiz Araujo. “We are benefiting from the experience we gained in the Champions League last year.”

Milan have their injuries woes too. Veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be absent after the 39-year-old Swede limped off late in the second-half following a brace during Milan’s 3-1 win at Napoli. Lille old-boy Rafael Leao will also be missing from Milan’s line-up due to injury.

Key

“Zlatan is a very important player in the way Milan play,” said Galtier. “He’s their top scorer in Serie A but I think Milan will rely more on building quickly from the back.”

In Group H’s other game, third-placed Sparta Prague entertain bottom-of-the-pile Celtic at the Generali Arena.

In other games, emotions are certain to be intense when Napoli host Rijeka in Group F. It will be the last fixture at the stadium under the name San Paolo.

From next week it will be rechristened Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in homage to the club’s former striker who died after suffering a heart attack in his native Argentina at the age of 60.

In 1987, Maradona inspired Napoli to the first Serie A title in their 70 year history. They also claimed the 1990 crown as well as the Uefa Cup and Coppa Italia before his departure in 1991.

Normally buildings can only be designated for a new name 10 years after an individual’s death.

 

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