(IN THE PHOTO: A smiling Clarence Seedorf in a previous press conference)
MILANELLO -  This is what was said in today’s press conference ahead of Milan-Atletico Madrid in the last-16 of the Champions League on Wednesday night at the San Siro at 20.45.COACH CLARENCE SEEDORFThe first questions were about the current situation in the squad: "Our growth is gradual. This is a unique and special match. There are other factors that influence the game. I’m happy with our week’s work. The added value of this side is the team spirit and the bond between the different components that make up the team. We’re going through a difficult time and these are the kind of matches to use the enthusiasm that we have to make things better and strengthen the group. My players will give me the responses that I expect. My Milan? Big words. We have a group that is working well. I’m trying to get everyone in the best condition possible to express themselves out on the pitch. The league table doesn’t reflect the value of the squad. It happens in the various championships. With optimism and hope we need to work on our physical, technical and tactical aspects. If we improve these factors, things will start to look better in the league table very soon.”The next questions turned to Wednesday’s opponents Atletico Madrid: "Their negative results came against Real Madrid and I think that’s normal. They’re very well organised and they’ve been playing at this high level for a couple of years. Atletico Madrid have had two incredible seasons and this year they’re doing even better. Diego Costa is a fantastic striker. Brazil also wanted him in their national team…what else can I add? I spoke with Ancelotti and we discussed Atletico. I also spoke with my staff members and the club’s scouts. It’s important to have many points of views and different opinions. I saw the match against Real Sociedad. They’re a solid and close group. They’ve got great strikers and they show great discipline in the defensive and offensive phases of play. My congratulations to Simeone. I always wish him the best, apart from tomorrow and in Madrid in the second leg. He’s done a great job wherever he has been. I’m happy for him. Atletico are the favourites judging by the results in the league. We respect them, but in the Champions League Milan has an important history and we’ll do our all to beat them and go beyond our limits.”Seedorf also commented on the state of individual players: "Kakà isn’t yet fully-fit. We’re evaluating the situation. If he doesn’t make it, we have other options. De Sciglio in my opinion is a right-back. The fact that he can play on the left is another issue altogether. For his development it’s fundamental that he stays in this position. Continuity is also important and will allow him to improve professionally. Abate is also an important player and he will find space in the team. Pazzini with Balotelli? Anything is possible.”Speaking about the San Siro and home advantage the Dutch coach had this to say: "The fans will be fundamental because they’re quite rightly special matches. I’m expecting a great atmosphere, as we’re always used to. Empty stadiums is an Italian phenomenon. Our fans are always close to us. They’ve shown this throughout the years. I haven’t got any doubts that they will be our twelfth man tomorrow.” Speaking about the special European nights which Milan have become associated with, Seedorf had this to say: "The Champions League music at the start of the match transforms us and is special. The Champions League is the most important competition in the World. It’s right that there is so much attention. The best clubs and best players take part. These are the kind of nights that you dream about as a child. We’re happy that we’re still fighting to stay in the competition, for ourselves and for Italy. We’ve always had our attention on this game, but we need to remember one thing. In 2007 despite not doing so well, the Champions League brought the best out of us. It’s an opportunity to improve tactically and technically. It’s a great chance against a top opponent. It’s obvious that this match has a different value to others. We’ll try and get through by using our strengths. We know they’re ahead of us. I’ve been here for a short while. The Champions League is different. Different situations are created, in which you can win in a complicated manner. Tomorrow will be a great game, if we want to win. Qualification won’t be decided tomorrow evening. There are two matches to play and I don’t think there is any disagreement about that.” The visit of President Berlusconi also drew a lot of interest from the journalists: "The President is of great support. He doesn’t impose anything. He listens and he discusses. He’s intelligent and an innovator. He knows that in Europe no one plays with two strikers. The style of play is what counts more than the numbers and the strikers on the pitch. It’s not a question of systems. It would make things that much easier if it was just about choosing a playing system. The President is aware of all of this. It’s clear that he likes to have two strikers. At this moment in time we have two strikers and Petagna. As a result, we’ve chosen to go down a certain route.”There was also praise for the Primavera success after they won the Viareggio Tournament on Monday: “Congratulations to the Primavera and Pippo Inzaghi. I spoke to him yesterday and all of this brings enthusiasm and leads the way for the club. When the Primavera win it’s a positive factor for the whole squad.”On his feelings ahead of the match: "I’m excited, but I’m calm ahead of the match. For now. Maybe tonight I won’t be able to sleep! I can’t wait to experience it all.”MARIO BALOTELLI On his emotions ahead of the match: "I’m happy to play in a big-match like this. I suffered last year watching on in the stands. I hope I can have an impact tomorrow on the pitch. It’s always the same things that I want to achieve: to help the group and to win. Obviously a match like the one tomorrow has something different about it, but your input is always the same."On his chances of scoring tomorrow: "Maybe I didn’t score much in the group stages because I didn’t play much. I’m yet to score against a Spanish side. I haven’t scored for the Italian national team either against Spain. Maybe I can change that, starting with Atletico tomorrow. We score when I play with Pazzini, but it’s just a mere statistic.”Balotelli doesn’t seem to feel the pressure out on the pitch: "The pressure doesn’t come from the pitch. That comes from outside and doesn’t have anything to do with football. Football in Europe is different to here in terms of atmosphere and fans. Perhaps it’s better in Europe. I’m not promising anything. Let’s play the match first and then we’ll see. I’m very critical of myself. When the papers criticise me for example, they arrive late. Analysing yourself and by being self-critical leads to improvements. I’m a good player, a first team player with Milan. It’s not an important question whether I’m a champion or not. I need to help the team. Personal results come thanks to the team.”On his relationship with coach Seedorf: "The coach is like a team-mate. There is a lot of dialogue and he allows for opinions to be exchanged. Things come easily. He’s like a big brother. I’m a centre-forward, but if I have to play in goal to win the Champions League then that is what I’m willing to do.”World Cup or Champions League? Man City or Barcelona in Tuesday night’s match?: "Both competitions. All or nothing. Impossible to choose. I hope that Manchester City win
against Barcelona.”