AC Milan trained in the Amsterdam ArenA on Monday evening. On Tuesday, Ajax meets the Italian team for their first home game in the Champions League pool phase. Before the training, AC Milan coach Massimo Allegri and former Ajax player Clarence Seedorf looked ahead to the meeting.
Italian was the language of choice for a while on Monday evening with the journalists. Many members of the Italian press were in attendance in the ArenA’s full press room. Thanks to the presence of Clarence Seedorf, who is now 34, Dutch was spoken now and again. AC Milan’s midfielder looks forward to the match against his former club.
“With AC Milan, we need to concentrate one hundred percent from the start in order to win. I expect two teams at kick off who will be going for the win. Ajax will be going for it, too”, said Seedorf. “Ajax’s strength is the enthusiasm with which they play. There’s no point in comparing Ajax – AC Milan to what happened with Real Madrid. They were playing Champions League for the first time in years, and they especially missed Suarez. Besides that, Real Madrid played such a fantastic game that night that it would have been hard for anyone to beat them.”
Besides Seedorf, AC Milan coach Massimo Allegri was also on hand to comment. In front of ten cameras, he refused to let anything slip regarding his line-up. Among others, Ronaldinho’s availability was a source of uncertainty leading up to the training. Allegri: “I haven’t made any firm decision about that yet. Whether or not he plays will depend on how the training goes. Our team isn’t dependent on Ronaldinho.”
During the practice session, the stadium seats were diligently being decorated with the famous European flags. It will make for a fine setting on Tuesday night, combined with the renowned Champions League hymn. “Mister Champions League” Clarence Seedorf can most likely sing this tune in his sleep. Against Ajax, he’ll play his 111th match at the top European level. With these statistics, he’s has little company at the top, even with and experienced team like AC Milan. Still, the midfielder doesn’t see this showdown against Ajax as just an average match. Seedorf: “I’ll try to enjoy it. It’s good to be back. It’s been seven years (Champions League pool phase, Ajax – AC Milan, end of 2003) since I last played here. You can’t take for granted that you’ll always return to visit your old club.”
Answering the question of whether Seedorf sees a ‘new Seedorf’ with Ajax’s current players, the 87 time international answers: “I wouldn’t know, but I hope to see many of them coming up.” And, with a big grin: “That would be good for Dutch football.”
The current number five in Series A posted their second competition win last weekend. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the winning goal against Genoa. In the last Champions League match against Auxerre (2-0 win), AC Milan’s new striker also scored both goals. Coach Allegri sees the last two competition matches against Lazio Roma and Genoa as a good general rehearsal for the duel against Ajax. “They have lots of individual attributes and always play a special kind of football”, said the Italian. “I’ve watched Ajax with pleasure in the past. I’m expecting a match at the highest level on Tuesday night.”