What a week of football this promises to be. For a fan there is nothing better than the fact that your team is still competing and involved at this time of the season. Big games coming thick and fast, blood pressure going through the roof, no nails left on the fingers and yet you wouldn't want to have it any other way. Barcelona and Chelsea, two away games in a matter of days, each game that could decide if we end up with silverware or not this season - no pressure.
Nou Camp is a special venue to anyone attached with the club. Every mention brings back memories of 99 and eventual hopes and comparisons to the treble year. The game tomorrow, will not be won based on history or form, it will be won by eleven players on the pitch. Nothing else will matter. I must admit this is the most confident the fans are going in to a big game. I think we have what it takes to win these sort of games now. We are tactically more aware (think Roma away) and have the midfield resources to run a game or change things if required. In spite of their domestic form, Barcelona are going to be formidable opponents. The occasion is such that all players will be up for it. I don't think this will be an out and out open game as many fans expect. Both sides will be cagey, we will have to be patient and be prepared to do some chasing especially in the initial part of the game. We will have to be extremely purposeful with the ball though, the game will be ours if we use the ball well whenever we get it and if we are clinical in front of the goal. Obvious words but I can't offer anything deeper at the moment.
The biggest selection dilemma facing Fergie will be the selections of Giggs and Scholes. Giggs had a howler at the weekend and Scholes has also shown cluelessness in recent games. Does Fergie go for the jugular and drop both? Will he play one for the experience? I would definitely go with Anderson, Hargreaves and Carrick with Nani, Rooney and Ronaldo.
This will be a big test for the squad. Not only for the maturity with which they handle highly skilled opponents on the pitch but also how the occasion and the venue impacts their mental mode. The back four will have their work cut out with the likes of Messi, Etoo, Bojan and Henry all capable of creating havoc. We've had bad memories of the likes of Ronaldo and Kaka almost single handedly messing us up in the past. That must not happen. This can become tricky for us as the threat of Messi and Bojan can keep our full backs busy and we will miss the runs of Evra and Brown down the flanks.
Anyways, I think this is when the fans stop talking and the players do the talking for the fans on the pitch. This is the biggest week of the season, and as games go, there will only be ONE game bigger than this one; that will be in Moscow and only if we get past this one.