(IN THE PHOTO: Clarence Seedorf during the press conference)
MILANELLO – Here’s what Clarence Seedorf had to say in his press conference ahead of this weekend’s Big Match in the Italian top flight:"Andrea Pirlo is a friend of mine and I’m glad he’s happy. I have no doubt that our fans will make their presence felt at the San Siro just like they did for the match against Atletico. I look at the performance as a whole and often the statistics can lie. Football is one of the few sports where the numbers don’t always reflect the performance. Unlike other matches, we have no players with a fever and that has allowed us to prepare normally for the match apart from Balotelli and Pazzini who trained apart. Having the full squad at your disposal is very important. Credit to Juventus who have grown well since winning the first title. Victories help with morale and self-esteem and from my part I can only say all credit to them. I think Conte has given Italian football something new and in my opinion very positive. Along with Montella, he has brought a freshness to the game. All Italian coaches are very well prepared and that’s part of the reason why the league here is one of the most difficult in the world. I respect their work a lot. I still have everything to show as a coach and I watch what the others are doing very attentively. I’m trying to learn quickly using my footballing experience in this new role that I have.“It’s important to create a positive environment for the team and inside the team. I think De Sciglio will be available for selection even if he’s still feeling some pain. We’ll see about Balotelli today. Pazzini is feeling some pain as well but he should make it. I think the match against Sampdoria was more of an exam than Sunday’s match both in terms of motivation and the fact that we haven’t lost at home is a long time. We had a lot of new players on the pitch for that game as well. The match against Juventus is an opportunity. It’s very likely that Poli will start on Sunday. I read something that Montella said that I agree with. We all have to work together, coaches and referees. I think that technology will come onto the pitch as although we have great referees, until technology is in use on the pitch, there’ll always be discussions. The big teams always have to deal with challenging match calendars, that’s the same for all the teams that play in Europe. We’ll be looking for a big performance against a big team who’ve been on top of the table for three years. The league position is not important for us, it’s the three points that count. Anything can happen in football as we saw last week in the match against Torino. The ambition here at Milan is to be where we’ve always been."I always try to read the situation as far as dialogue with individual players goes, then with dialogue with the team as a whole, I look to have a strategic approach. This is the first Milan-Juventus match that I’ll be on the bench for and that’s a real honor. My experience tells me that even when the best players in the world are unavailable, the teams can still do well. It’s a different story if players are out for the whole season, but for a single game, it can be a motivating factor for the team as a whole. Pazzini has more experience than Balotelli and where Balotelli has space to grow, Pazzini provides more of a guarantee. My initial choices were very precise. To make a change you need to deliver a shock, a jolt. My initial requests at the start were the same as they are now even if the conditions that we were in wasn’t the best and understanding had to improve. Honda has always worked very hard, Taarabt wins back the ball a lot and even Robinho, when he’s played, has worked well. I hope that the road we’re on will give us continuity in terms of performances and results. Honda is in good shape as almost the entire rest of the team. The two midfielders in front of the defense have different responsibilities. Essien is doing well and we have to remember that he ash to play against Ateltico as well. He could start the match tomorrow and we’ll decide on that today. Nigel De Jong is very calm and there’s a long way to go before the world cup. He can improve and get in better shape this week. I think he’ll be a part of the Dutch side for the summer. With Juventus there’s a wonderful sporting rivalry and luckily in my career, I managed to do well against them. That doesn’t count now though and I’m convinced that my players will put in a great performance with respect to the strength of this Juve team”.