AC Milan's Champions League knockout tie against Atletico Madrid presents a strange juxtaposition in terms of the established European hierarchy.
While Milan, seven-time winners of the competition, settled for sneaking through the group stage. But they only qualified because of a one-point advantage over Ajax in Group H, while Atletico Madrid powered through their group with five wins and a draw.
That continued a remarkable season for the side based in the Spanish capital, who have also surpassed expectations domestically to sit level on points with Barcelona and Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.
Diego Simeone's side are no mugs and Milan, used to being one of the big guns, will have their work cut out against one of the top teams in Europe on current form.
Where: San Siro in Milan, Italy
When: Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 7:45 p.m. GMT (2:45 p.m. ET)
Watch: Sky Sports 3 and Fox Sports
Atletico Madrid arrive in Milan on the back of some patchy form, having lost three of their last four games.
Admittedly, two of those defeats came in the Copa del Rey against a strong Real Madrid side with revenge on their mind following a shock cup final defeat last season.
While that will give Milan some hope, it is more likely that Atletico will be eager to build on the 3-0 Primera Division victory over Real Valladolid at the weekend and return to the form that saw them go 23 games unbeaten in all competitions before their mini-blip.
Although this troubled campaign has not been written off entirely by Milan, the focus of their novice coach Clarence Seedorf is of leading the side towards a respectable finish in Serie A rather than working an unlikely miracle in the Champions League.
Seedorf, in his first managerial job, has steadied the ship and begun to make some progress with a young Milan side, but they are unlikely to withstand the powerful high-tempo style which Diego Simeone has employed at Atletico with great success.
Diego Costa is in great form and has scored 25 goals in 27 appearances this season, per Soccerbase, while in goal Thibaut Courtois is one of the most talented young goalkeepers in world football.
Milan have relied heavily on the threat of Mario Balotelli, and he will again be their key man as they look for an inspirational figure to give them a first-leg advantage.
If Atletico are able to impose their style on the game early and dictate play, then there is every chance that they will continue their fine run in the Champions League this season and put one foot in the quarter-finals.
Milan's main problem will be handling Costa. The Brazilian-born striker is up there with the very best forwards in the world at the moment and will be a safe bet to add to his four goals in the Champions League already this season.
AC Milan 1-2 Atletico Madrid
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