Milan's 'European DNA' to be tested

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Icon SMIClarence Seedorf twice won the Champions League as a Milan player.

As the only player to have won the Champions League with three different clubs, it is fair to say that Clarence Seedorf has a special relationship with the tournament. Having enjoyed great success on the pitch, he will be hoping to use that experience when he makes his debut in Europe as Milan's coach against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night.

The Dutchman used a phrase that many have previously used to describe the Rossoneri's relationship with the Champions League, in that it is in their DNA. Seedorf revealed that there are values that he wishes to impart on the players, as winning is equally as important as the manner in which it is achieved.

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Having helped the club lift their last European trophy in 2007, Seedorf insists that he wants his team to inspire the next generation and build a new legacy which will see Milan remain at the forefront of European football.

With the danger of being absent from next season's tournament a very real threat, the Rossoneri must make the most of their opportunity this year, although their Spanish rivals will undoubtedly provide a tough test over both legs.

It will be particularly tricky at San Siro, as Kaka and Cristian Zapata were added to the injured list after picking up knocks at the weekend. The Brazilian could return, but along with the absence of cup-tied Keisuke Honda and Riccardo Saponara, there are undoubtedly adjustments to be made.

Seedorf will also be forced to alter his defensive duo in midfield, with Riccardo Montolivo suspended for the first leg. As a result, he will be expected to field Michael Essien alongside Nigel De Jong, and it will be vital that the combative pair are able to control the game in both phases.

While there are no suggestions that Seedorf will change his tactical system, it will be a real examination of how they deal with quality opposition, with the occasion hopefully bringing out the best of the Rossoneri to deal with the threat that faces them.

Naturally, both parties are optimistic ahead of the first clash, but particularly for Milan and Seedorf, they are presented with an opportunity to make a real statement of their intention this season, and show what they can offer moving forward.

It is vital that as supporters we see progress and clear signs of how this new Milan will approach the biggest stages, as Seedorf has insisted that he prefers to see a team that likes to attack and that is creative, yet organised at the same time.

His vision will need both time and patience to see Milan back at the top of the pyramid, but at this early stage in their new cycle they have the chance to provide hope for the future.

Depending on whether or not he is able to deliver on his promise, Seedorf envisages his Milan side playing progressive football which appreciates the values and expectations of their past. Former Milan midfielder Demetrio Albertini believes that Atleti can be considered favourites this week, but it is the change in approach from a Milan perspective that could be particularly comforting on this long road back to success.

Confident Milan can progress past Atletico? How important is the performance at this stage?

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty

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