Seedorf believes Milan will produce that ‘something extra’

Seedorf will be going head to head with a man he knows well from his playing days, Atletico’s Argentine coach Diego Simeone

AC Milan’s coach Clarence Seedorf

AC Milan’s coach Clarence Seedorf

Tue, Feb 18, 2014, 22:45

Clarence Seedorf will need to tap into all the experience he gained as the only player to win the Champions League with three different clubs if his AC Milan side are to get past Atletico Madrid and into the quarter-finals.

Milan host the Spanish club, who are riding high in La Liga, for their last 16, first leg on Wednesday night, when Seedorf will make his coaching debut in Europe’s elite club competition after taking over last month from Massimiliano Allegri.

The 37-year-old former Netherlands midfielder won the Champions League once with Ajax Amsterdam and once with Real Madrid before a decade playing at Milan yielded two more continental titles.

However, the seven-times European champions have fallen on hard times and sit ninth in Serie A, 31 points behind leaders Juventus, and Seedorf has taken on the task of lifting them out of their slump and reviving past glories.

“The match against Atletico will be a great chance to take a big step forward,” Seedorf said after Milan won 1-0 at home to Bologna last Friday. “We’ll play our game as Milan always have something extra in the Champions League,” he added.

“I’m confident that the stadium will be full as it was in the old days with a great atmosphere. The fans and the stadium will give the players what they need.”

Playing days
Seedorf will be going head to head with a man he knows well from his playing days, Atletico’s Argentine coach Diego Simeone, who had stints at Italian clubs including Inter Milan and Lazio and Spanish sides Atletico and Sevilla. Simeone (43) has transformed the Madrid side into genuine contenders in Spain and Europe since taking over at the end of 2011 and they are joint top of La Liga with heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid.

They were one of only three teams undefeated in the Champions League group stage, winning five and drawing one, and are unbeaten in their last four away games in Europe.

“Atletico seem like an Italian or Argentine team since Simeone arrived, they are extremely tough,” Demetrio Albertini, a former Milan and Italy midfielder who also had a brief loan spell at Atletico, said yesterday.

“Above all they are a balanced team and the coach has imposed a very well defined style and character,” he added. “Atletico have an advantage, they are the favourites as their position in the (Spanish) league suggests.

“But let’s not forget one thing. The Champions League is Milan’s home. They have won seven European titles and the history is there.”

Atletico have stumbled in recent weeks, suffering a surprise defeat at Almeria in La Liga and being eliminated from the King’s Cup by city rivals Real.They returned to winning ways at the weekend with a 3-0 league win at home to Real Valladolid.Simeone bolstered his squad with last month’s signing of Brazilian playmaker Diego and believes he has enough depth to compete successfully on two fronts.