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Seedorf urges Milan players to step up

AC Milan go into the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid with coach Clarence Seedorf hopeful that his side can overcome their underdog status.

Atletico have a 1-0 advantage from the first game at Milan’s San Siro, so the Rossoneri need to become only the third club in the history of the Champions League to overturn a home first-leg defeat if they are to progress.

History may be against them as they risk being eliminated by Spanish opponents for the third year running, but Seedorf is quietly optimistic about his side's chances.

"Each game has its own story and there have been plenty of stories written in the Champions League," he said at a news conference in Madrid. "Tomorrow, we've got to write one of those stories.

"It's happened in the past that we've won games where we did not start out as favourites, but I think Atletico are and have been favourites since the draw was made. But the tie's still open and we're going to try to qualify."

Following Saturday's defeat to Udinese -- sealing Milan's first back-to-back league defeats this season after losing to Juventus a week ago -- there is a lot riding on Tuesday night's clash at the Vicente Calderon.

In the Serie A table, nine points separate Milan from a berth in the Europa League next season, making success in the Champions League potentially the best route back into Europe next season. Elimination would not mean the end of their season, however.

"I have a project which I'm trying to move along with Milan," Seedorf added. "I'm very enthusiastic about it and I'm convinced we can build a great future -- a future which is not dependent on this one game.

"Together with these lads, I want to lay the foundations for a tomorrow. There will be setbacks along the way, but the players are very motivated. It's an important moment for us and the team can write a beautiful page in the history of this club at a time when things are not going so well."

Mario Balotelli will get the chance to write that page with Seedorf passing him fit for Wednesday night while Adel Taarabt has also been confirmed in the starting XI, with the Dutch coach stating: "He's one of those players who can make the difference."

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