Date:Wednesday May 27 2009
Are you superstitious? I'm not, I know that spitting over my shoulder eastwards three times every day protect me from any magical harm. But now the nerves are taking me over and I'm left scrambling for good omens ahead of the final versus Barcelona.
The first that occurred to me is the all-white kit. After all, we beat them in Rotterdam in 1991 in white, winning Sir Alex's first ever European trophy at United. That was Mark Hughes' night - could this one belong to Wayne Rooney?
Then there is the last visit to Stadio Olimpico when we wore white shirts - and won 2-0 against a team known for their lovely passing game. The starting line-up that night was almost the same that will take the field tonight, only that Scholes played instead of Giggs and Brown started instead of O'Shea.
In 1986, Barcelona lost the European Cup final. In 1992, they won it. In 1994, they lost it again. In 2006, they won it again. Guess what's coming now?
United won every single European final they ever played in.
Last time we went into the final missing two central midfielders we won in dramatic fashion - in the Nou Camp, home of Barcelona. Keane and Scholes were absent then, Fletcher and Hargreaves will miss the game now.
Often forgotten is the fact that in 1999 Bayern were also playing for a Treble, having won the Bundesliga and the DFB Cup. This year Barcelona find themselves in a similar position after winning La Liga and Copa del Rey.
In 1999 our number seven, a winger, played through the middle, in central midfield. In 2009, our number seven, essentially a winger, will play centre forward. (Probably.)
In 1999 the second leg of the semi-final brought a glorious Manchester United performance, at Turin, beating Juventus 3-2. This season we produced one of our best displays of the season at the Emirates at the same stage of the competition, beating Arsenal 3-1.
Barcelona spent all the time between their semi-final win over Chelsea and the final talking up themselves as the true guardians of the beautiful game. Messi claimed they deserve the trophy for the football they played all season. Last time they did that, in 1994 (when Johan Cruyff declared they should win for the good of football), they were resoundingly thrashed by a supposedly defensive team, AC Milan.
The last holders who reached the final the next season lost not least because of a relatively unknown youth product of the opposition (Lars Ricken, scorer of a stunning goal against Juventus in 1997). So we must watch out for Bojan Krkic...
Last time a Swiss referee was in charge of the game the Spanish side won. It was in 2002: Urs Meier was officiating when Real Madrid beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1. Dimitar Berbatov played in that game as a substitute, as he's likely to do tonight.
Five Champions League finals were settled on penalties but never two in a row. So we're likely to have a winner in 90 or at most 120 minutes.
And that's it, these occurred to me. If you know anything better, don't hesitate to tell us.
Date:Wednesday May 27 2009
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