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Milan's Seedorf targets chinks in Atlético armour

Diego Simeone describes AC Milan as a "European powerhouse" while opposite number Clarence Seedorf hopes to exploit "chinks in the armour" of Club Atlético de Madrid.

Clarence Seedorf drills his Milan players ahead of the tie with Atlético
Clarence Seedorf drills his Milan players ahead of the tie with Atlético ©AFP/Getty Images

AC Milan coach Clarence Seedorf knows his team are in for a tough game when they host Club Atlético de Madrid at San Siro tomorrow, but even though the Spanish side are flying in the Spanish Liga, the Dutch tactician has recognised "chinks in their armour we hope to exploit". Rojiblancos boss Diego Simeone, meanwhile, feels at home as he returns to the ground of old club FC Internazionale Milano – yet knows his charges face the sternest of tests against a "European powerhouse".

Clarence Seedorf, Milan coach
The team are ready and motivated. 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.

Atlético deserve respect. 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. In terms of our attitude, we're on the right track, and of course we must continue to improve with humility. I can see that the boys are very determined.

I want to congratulate [Diego Simeone] on his work as a coach. I wish him the best, except for tomorrow and the next game. But I'm happy for him.

Weekend result
Friday: Milan 1-0 Bologna FC (Balotelli 86)

Abbiati; De Sciglio, Rami, Zaccardo, Constant; De Jong (Muntari 63), Montolivo; Honda (Pazzini 66), Kaká (Poli 80), Taarabt; Balotelli.

• Balotelli's superb long-range strike earned Milan victory. Balotelli has now scored four of the Rossoneri's seven goals in all competitions since Seedorf succeeded Massimiliano Allegri last month.

Team news
Robinho (thigh), Stephan El Shaarawy (foot), Valter Birsa (thigh) and Bryan Cristante (leg) are sidelined. Cristián Zapata is a doubt after sustaining a thigh injury in the warm-up for the Bologna game while Kaká suffered an ankle knock in the same match. Of the Brazilian, Seedorf said: "He is not yet at his best. We are monitoring his condition – we hope he can recover."

Diego Simeone, Atlético coach
History does count in these ties. 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.

I feel at home [at San Siro] but I will not play tomorrow. I lived some extraordinary years, made lots of friends here and have great memories of those days. It will be a fantastic clash for my players, especially with the quarter-finals at stake. Playing at San Siro is a great feeling for any player. I am focused on this game. We do not consider ourselves favourites, we have to show we are better than them on the pitch. We need to be focused and play with intensity. It will be a great game for the fans. Both teams will play attacking football, so it will be important to defend well and not concede.

Weekend result
Saturday: Atlético 3-0
Real Valladolid CF
(Raúl García 3, Diego Costa 4, Godín 74)
Courtois; Juanfran, Alderweireld, Godín, Insúa; Koke (Sosa 79), Gabi, Mario Suárez, Arda (Villa 76); Raúl García (Diego 64), Diego Costa.

• Atlético had gone 277 minutes without a goal, their longest wait since December 2011/January 2012, before hitting two in 60 seconds against Real Valladolid.

Team news
Filipe Luís (adductor), Javi Manquillo (neck) and Tiago (knee and wrist) are out of contention for the first leg.

Match fact
• Milan have lost their last four knockout ties against Spanish opponents: to FC Barcelona (2011/12 quarter-finals, 2012/13 round of 16, 2005/06 semi-finals) and RC Deportivo La Coruña (2003/04 quarter-finals).