Europa League Liveblog: Round 1

Join us for all the build-up and action as it happens from three Europa League games, as Napoli host AZ Alkmaar, Roma visit Young Boys and Milan play at Celtic Park.

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We begin at 17.55 UK time (16.55 GMT) with two matches, as Napoli hope to keep their Serie A momentum going in Europe against an AZ Alkmaar side decimated by COVID-19.

At the same time, Roma are in Switzerland against Young Boys and are the hot favourites to top their group, but will test the limits of their squad strength in depth.

Milan take to the field in Glasgow at 20.00 UK time (19.00 GMT) against Scottish champions Celtic, who dropped into the Europa League from the Champions League preliminary rounds.

The Rossoneri had to fight to get here via the play-offs and are currently top of Serie A with a 100 per cent record.

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Seoane: ‘Roma Champions League level’

Young Boys coach Gerardo Seoane maintains Roma ‘are a Champions League level team’ and the real battle is for second place in their Europa League group.

It kicks off on Thursday at 17.55 UK time (16.55 GMT), in a group with CSKA Sofia and CFR Cluj.

“We always want to give our best and there is a clear favourite in this group, who we will be facing tomorrow,” said Seoane in his press conference.

“Roma are a Champions League level squad. Each of the other three teams in the group have the same odds of going through in second place, so that is what Young Boys are aiming for.

“I won’t reveal exactly what tactical approach we will be taking tomorrow. We know Roma are a very compact team, solid defensively and often with three at the back. They are dangerous upfront with players like Pedro and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

“We won’t have many scoring opportunities against such a strong opponent, so we must be efficient and clinical if we want the three points tomorrow. We’ve been doing some specialist training on the finishing over the last few days.”

Young Boys have been hit by injuries and COVID-19, ruling out Sandro Lauper, Esteban Petignat, Christopher Martins and Marvin Spielmann, while Ulisses Garcia is still in isolation until tomorrow.

“Ali Camara has been training for three days, so he will be in the team.”

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Villar: ‘Pedro never stops running’

Gonzalo Villar jokes new Roma teammate Pedro Rodriguez ‘must be 22 years old rather than 33, as he never stops running.’

The Europa League opener with Young Boys kicks off on Thursday at 17.55 UK time (16.55 GMT).

“Serie A is a different type of football to the one I am accustomed to, but I feel that I’ve adapted more this season and am training well,” said the midfielder in his press conference.

The Giallorossi beat Benevento 5-2 at the weekend with former Chelsea veteran Pedro particularly impressive.

“It was so exciting to see Pedro joining Roma, especially for me because I’m Spanish, and he has already scored two goals. It’s not just the goals, as he never stops running and I swear he must really be 22 years old rather than 33!

“Pedro sets an example for us younger players to follow and his advice is so valuable.”

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Fonseca: ‘Roma working together’

Paulo Fonseca assures there is mutual confidence at Roma and he’ll make huge changes for the Europa League opener with Young Boys.

It kicks off on Thursday at 17.55 UK time (16.55 GMT), in Group A with CSKA Sofia and CFR Cluj.

“We are all working together with the common objective of making Roma stronger every day,” said the coach in his press conference.

“I feel everyone at the club has faith in this project and we are all working in the same direction. It’s important to have this mix of experienced and younger players, like Gonzalo Villar, Carles Perez and others. They have adapted to our football and we have a great deal of confidence in them for the future and the present.”

The Giallorossi are fresh from a 5-2 Serie A victory over Benevento, but Fonseca confirms there will be a massive squad rotation.

“We’ll see probably more than five or six changes. It’s important to rotate the squad at this time.”

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Calhanoglu ruled out for 10 days

According to Sky Sport Italia, Milan will be without Hakan Calhanoglu for at least 10 days after he suffered a sprained ankle.

The Turkey international sustained the injury during a training session and was spotted on crutches this afternoon.

It’s reported the tests confirmed a sprained ankle and he will be out of action for at least 10 days.

That would mean Calhanoglu is due to miss the upcoming matches against Celtic, Roma and Sparta Prague between Serie A and the Europa League.

He’s also a doubt against Udinese, so will probably only make his comeback after the break for international duty in November.

The midfielder had a great start to the season, contributing four goals and three assists in seven games.

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