Right then. Forget the misery. Park the doom and gloom. Leave the last minute equalisers to one side. Manchester United are playing Juventus in the Champions League, and if that’s not an arrangement of words and circumstances that gets your heart a-hammering, you should go and see a doctor immediately.
In the late 90s, with the Champions League the only hole in Alex Ferguson’s CV, United faced the mighty Juventus three seasons in a row. In 1996/97, United were battered home and away in the group stage. Even though the scoreline was 1-0 on both occasions, the games served as notice that United were some way from the best of Europe. But the following season, progress was evident: United won 3-2 at Old Trafford in another group stage game.
And then came 1998/99, and the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, cueing up that semi-final second leg. It might still be the greatest in the competition’s history. It was Roy Keane’s defining display. It was 2-0 down to 3-2 up. It was United’s first win in Italy. It was honestly ridiculous.
Whether tonight’s festivities will end up being as significant is an open question, though tBB suspects the answer is probably no. Still, United have managed to find a bit of spirit in their last couple of games, mustering a successful comeback against Newcastle and nearly repeating the trick against Chelsea. You sense this is a delicate moment.
A good performance tonight, a big result, and perhaps we can finally start to feel a little optimistic for the first time this season. A hammering, on the other hand, might blow everything up again. It’s going to be ... well, it’s going to be something.
Champions League schedule
We kick off at 20:00 in the UK, which is 15:00 on the east coast of the USA, and a thoroughly civilised 12:00 over on the west. Hope you’re enjoying your lunchbreak.
Champions League TV channel
BT Sport 2 for those in the UK. Those in the States can catch the action on TNT or Univision. Everyone else, head on over to LiveSoccerTV to find out your options.
Champions League streaming
BT Sport’s streaming service in the UK, and B/R Live for those Stateside.
Prediction: David De Gea; Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw; Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba; Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford.
Update: Valencia in for Young and Mata for Herrera. And Tahith Chong on the bench!
This will be our live thread for the game, so do join us in the comments below.