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Feb 18, 2014

Balotelli: I'd play in goal to win UCL

As the AC Milan, Atletico Madrid match approaches, ESPN FC's Gabriele Marcotti discusses the importance of Mario Balotelli and who will be missing for the game from AC Milan.

AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli says he would "play in goal" if it meant winning the Champions League as he prepares for his side’s last-16 clash with Atletico Madrid.  

• Paul: Testing Milan's European DNA
• Diego Costa: Balotelli one of the best

Balotelli has never scored in the Champions League knockout stage and is determined to rectify that when the Rossoneri take on the Rojiblancos in the first leg at the San Siro on Wednesday.

The Italy striker claimed to have never tasted victory against a Spanish side -- though he actually scored in Manchester City Champions League win against Villarreal in 2011 and played in Inter Milan’s semifinal first leg victory over Barcelona in 2010 -- as he discussed his European hopes ahead of the game.

Mario Balotelli had been linked with a winter move to Chelsea.
Mario Balotelli is desperate to get his hands on the Champions League trophy with AC Milan.

"Spanish sides are always difficult to beat and I've never beaten them, so it wold be nice to start by beating Atletico," Balotelli said at a news conference. "Maybe I've not scored in the knockout stages yet, but I've not had much of a chance really, have I?

"I'm a centre forward, but if to win the Champions League I've got to play in goal, then I'll play in goal."

Milan coach Clarence Seedorf is searching for a formula to beat the joint-Primera Division leaders in his first Champions League game, with the Dutchman saying: "They've always been a well-organised side who know what they want and have been at this level for two years now, so we have great respect for them.

“We're up against a side who are ahead of us in every aspect, but the Champions League is something else. I've seen lots of Champions League games featuring sides who are having difficulties [domestically], yet they get good results so we do have a bit of faith, although we know we've got to play a great game.

"Obviously this game has a different importance to other our other games. We've been building up to this one. It's very special as it's the most important club tournament in the world. It has the best players on the field with the best clubs participating. These are the evenings that children dream of being involved in, either as a player or a fan.

"We're delighted to be competing for Milan and for Italy, and we want to remain on course for the Champions League this season."

Seedorf, who is the only player to have won the Champions League with three different clubs, admitted Kaka’s participation remained in doubt after the Brazilian was again unable to train on Tuesday.

"We're evaluating him and hope he will be fit," added Seedorf, who could instead turn to Giampaolo Pazzini to play alongside Balotelli in a partnership which appears to guarantee goals.

"Each time I play with him, either he or I score, and that's a fact," Balotelli said of Pazzini. "But it's up to the coach [who plays]. Clarence is more or less still a player anyway. He's still part of the squad. I wouldn’t call him a father as that might offend him, but he's more of a brother."

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