AC Milan will face a difficult test on Wednesday night against an unbeaten Atletico Madrid side.
Atletico visit the San Siro as favourites in this first-leg fixture, with Milan's powers of destruction on the wane. Languishing in 11th in Serie A, Milan are unlikely to qualify for the Champions League next season.
Conversely, their form in the Champions League has been exemplary. With Barcelona in their group, second place was the best they could hope for, and that is what they achieved at the expense of Ajax and Celtic.
Despite this, Clarence Seedorf's side are a shadow of the side that lifted the famous trophy in 2007. Seedorf himself was a part of that side, as he picked up his fourth Champions League medal.
"The team are ready and motivated," said the AC boss at his press conference. "We're going to face a side that are doing well. We're really motivated. It will be a great night, full of chances to reap the benefits of our hard work. The Champions League is special – it is a very important competition and we are happy to be representing Italy."
He must now do his best to inspire his charges against an Atletico Madrid side who have swept all before them in this year's edition of the Liga BBVA.
"Atlético deserve respect," added Seedorf. "They are a strong team – well organised – but they have chinks in their armour that we hope to exploit. We will give our best and we will stick together."
The Madrid side have been in superb form, sharing top spot with regulars Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Madrid have the likes of Diego Costa to thank for their upturn in form, with the Brazilian bagging 21 goals in the league and 26 in all competitions.
Their Champions League exploits saw them comfortably top their group unbeaten, 10 points of their nearest challengers Zenit St Petersburg.
Diego Simeone's side have become a ruthless outfit, and unfazed by any opposition. However while Atletico harbour hopes of a potentially winning La Liga, the Champions league is the only competition Milan are capable of winning.
That driving force could inspire Milan to an unlikely first-leg victory. Simeone certainly expects their illustrious opponent to put up a fight:
"Our opponents are a European powerhouse both as a team and as a club. However, Atlético also have a great tradition in cup competitions. Tomorrow the players will write a new chapter of history."
"It will be an open game, we can expect anything. It is difficult to make a prediction. We will be facing the best possible Milan side, with players who are very good on the counterattack and good at exploiting space."
Atletico certainly won't make things easy, and Seedorf's team must hit the ground running, or risk being bulldozed by the Spaniards.
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