Stefano Pioli sees Milan’s clash with Atletico Madrid as “a great opportunity” as they fight to stay in European competition this season.
The Rossoneri sit bottom of Group B with just one point from four matches against Atleti, Liverpool and Porto.
They must beat the LaLiga champions on Wednesday to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the last 16 or claiming the Europa League place, although they will be unable to finish in the top two regardless if Porto defeat Liverpool.
A controversial last-minute penalty from Luis Suarez saw Atleti beat 10-man Milan in the reverse fixture in September, a third-straight defeat for the Italian side against these opponents.
Indeed, Milan have only managed one victory in their past 16 Champions League meetings with Spanish sides and have lost all of the most recent four.
Despite history and the odds being against them, Pioli is looking at the game at the Wanda Metropolitano as a chance to prove themselves.
“It’s a great opportunity, perhaps our last to stay in this competition against strong opponents whose style of play we have studied carefully, and that we know well having played them a few weeks ago,” he said on Tuesday.
“We didn’t need the ending [against Atleti] to know the qualities of our opponents, especially their great quality of staying in the game until the end. I think they’re among the best in Europe to recover at the death.
“We must always play to believe until the 95th minute.”
Milan are level at the top of Serie A with Napoli, having won 10 and lost just one of their opening 13 games of the season, but their Champions League campaign has been marked by narrow defeats.
They let a 2-1 lead slip to lose 3-2 at Anfield prior to their home defeat to Atletico before a 1-0 loss in Porto on matchday three.
Pioli insists his inexperienced side are not far from matching their more experienced opponents in Europe.
“We’re built for this, to be competitive in both competitions,” he said. “For many, it’s their first time in the Champions League, we’ve faced opponents of the highest level, but we have shown we’re not too far away from them.
“We’re aware we’ve always lacked a certain something. In terms of intensity, quality and concentration, we’ll have to perform at 100 per cent tomorrow.”
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