Milan: AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli hit out at his critics a day before the struggling Serie A giants host in-form Atletico Madrid. Balotelli made partial amends for a string of mediocre performances for Clarence Seedorf's side with a stunning long-range strike which sealed a late 1-0 win against Bologna on Friday.
AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli. Pic/Getty Images
It came in timely fashion, only days ahead of the first leg of a Champions League Last 16 tie against Diego Simeone's Spanish title chasers. Balotelli hopes it has silenced his detractors before a game in which Milan, going on recent statistics, are the underdogs.
"I criticise myself enough, so when I hear it coming from other people I get really fed up," the 23-year-old told media yesterday.
Atletico in hot form
Atletico, who are pushing Barcelona and Real Madrid for command of La Liga, are firm favourites for a win that would boost their quarter-final chances ahead of the return leg in a fortnight.
However, Balotelli says he is spurred on by the chance to make partial amends for Italy's last final defeat at a major international tournament. A brace from the Italy striker in the semi-final of Euro 2012 against Germany set up a final against Spain, who went on to rout the Azzurri 4-0.
Balotelli admits the 'Rioja' are a tough nut to crack but added: "Their national side is a little difficult to beat, but maybe we can start (avenging) by beating a Spanish club side.
"Games like tomorrow's are different, but the objective remains the same: like having the determination to win and helping the team reach that objective." Seedorf, meanwhile, is relishing tonight's challenge.
"It will be another great opportunity to take another step forward in the competition," Seedorf said."Atletico are well organised, strong and have great forwards.
"But I know we will raise our game for the Champions League and I'm looking forward to getting reacquainted with the San Siro that I got to know so well in this competition."