AC Milan's Swiss defender Ricardo Rodriguez (R) kicks the ball despite Lazio's midfielder Marco Parolo (L) during the Italian Serie A football match Lazio vs AC Milan on September 10, 2017 at the Olympic stadium in Rome. / AFP / Vincenzo PINTO
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Still, there is much at stake for the 48 teams in the 12 groups, including former European Cup or Champions League winners AC Milan, Marseille and Red Star Belgrade.AC MILAN'S RETURNAfter three years away, AC Milan return to European competition as perhaps the favorites – at least until December when eight teams jump in as a result of placing third in a Champions League group.Arsene Wenger is unlikely to take the Europa League as seriously as Liverpool and Manchester United, finalists over the past two years who targeted the bonus prize of a direct Champions League place.Then 29, Julian Nagelsmann responded by steering the side from danger in his first season, and leading them to fourth for their best ever season in his next.Liverpool prevailed in their Champions League playoff, but Hoffenheim make their Europa League debut against visiting Sporting Braga Thursday.
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