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Atlético Madrid make a statement before Champions League matchup against Milan

Diego Costa Atletico Madrid

On Friday night, Mario Balotelli scored an absolutely fantastic goal to ensure AC Milan grabbed a late winner against Bologna. The rossoneri are currently tenth in the Serie A table after a less than spectacular first half of the season, but - aside from a rather limp loss against Napoli last weekend - are starting to come to life under new coach Clarence Seedorf. It looks like they just might be able to put up a fight against Atlético Madrid in their upcoming midweek Champions League game.

In fact, it looked like it might be all too easy for Milan to advance to the next round. After all, Atleti had just lost 5-0 over two legs of their Copa del Rey semifinal, falling to city rivals Real Madrid. In between, they fell 2-0 to Almeria, who’ve been struggling in La Liga. Were Atlético, who’d been fighting for first for much of the season, finally set to slide?

Well, don’t count out Diego Simeone’s men just yet. On Saturday afternoon, they dismantled Real Valladolid. Raúl García opened the scoring after just three minutes, off a free kick from Gabi. Just a minute later and Diego Costa had one in the back of the net, García helping out with the long ball up the pitch. Diego Godín added a third deep in the second half, heading on a corner from Diego Ribas.

Sure, it may be just a solid win over a team struggling to avoid relegation. But for Atelti, who temporarily take top with those three points, it just might mean an infusion of confidence, a boost that allows them to go to Milan and emerge with an impressive win.

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