After clinching a seventh crown last season, Massimo Ambrosini says AC Milan are determined to reassert their authority as Europe's premier club once again.
After clinching a seventh European crown last season, AC Milan are out to reassert their authority as the continent's premier club according to midfielder Massimo Ambrosini – starting against SL Benfica on opening night.
Milan host Benfica in a rematch of the 1963 and 1990 finals, both of which resulted in triumphs for the Rossoneri, and Ambrosini, deputising as captain in the absence of the injured Paolo Maldini, is confident of further success on Tuesday. "We discovered our true strength last season and we'll be just as strong this time around," the 30-year-old said. "You will see the same Milan because we are fully aware of our strengths and we know how good we are. We'll approach the match in the same way as last season, and we certainly won't underestimate the opposition.
"Last year we had the determination to go all the way and win it," he continued. "This time we have the same hunger to confirm our status at the very top; it's an extra motivation for us. But ours is a very proud club with great tradition. We don't really need incentives and we don't need to prove that we have the same focus because, after reaching three finals in five years, our European record speaks for itself."
Ambrosini appeared as a second-half substitute in Sunday's 1-1 draw at AC Siena and along with Filippo Inzaghi, Massimo Oddo and Kaká, he is expected to return to the starting lineup against visitors whom the Italy midfielder rates highly. "Benfica are from the school of thought that likes to play good football and keep possession," he said. "As a midfielder it makes them very difficult to play against because it is difficult to get the ball off them. So we have to be tactically very astute."
Ambrosini is already familiar with former team-mate Rui Costa, with whom he won this competition in 2003, and who continues to belie his 35 years with influential performances for the Lisbon outfit. Two wonder strikes against FC København in the third qualifying round underlined his importance to the club where he first made his name. "Benfica are very good at keeping the ball and have players full of tricks and movement," Ambrosini went on. "They have excellent players like Rui Costa whom we know well. They are capable of spectacular football so we need to beware."