AC Milan wary of Atletico UCL threat
AC Milan coach Clarence Seedorf took advantage of a day off on Sunday by flying to Spain to see his side's upcoming Champions League opponents Atletico Madrid in action.
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He probably returned more concerned than before after witnessing Diego Simeone's side move three points clear at the top of the Primera Division with a 4-0 win over Real Sociedad.
Before Seedorf could even deliver his trip report to Adriano Galliani, the Milan general manager was able to anticipate what would be said.
"I've not heard from Clarence yet as he's on his way back from Spain, but Atletico are in an extraordinary condition," Galliani told reporters in Milan.
"They must have a fantastic fitness coach seeing as they've been doing well since the start of the season without any dips. It's been years since there was a team other than Real Madrid or Barcelona top of the table in Spain."
Milan do battle with Atletico in the Champions League last-16, with the first leg at the San Siro on Feb. 19 and the return at the Vicente Calderon on March 11.
The tie is sure to be a cause of concern for Rossoneri fans after they watched their team drop to 10th in the Serie A table last weekend thanks to a 1-1 draw with Torino.
"It's a pity because third, fourth and fifth all lost," Galliani said. "So with a win, we would have narrowed the gap. But Seedorf's doing well and the players are applying themselves a lot. We're satisfied."
Meanwhile, the first step of preparation for the Atletico Champions League tie has been taken with the handing of a 32-man squad to UEFA. That list includes new signings Adil Rami, Michael Essien and Adel Taarabt, who has earned a place at the expense of Riccardo Saponara.
Stephan El Shaarawy also features, but Keisuke Honda is ineligible having appeared in the competition already this season for previous club CSKA Moscow.