FOOTBALL NEWS

29/04/2008 09:40, Report by Steve Bartram
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Blog: Play your part

ManUtd.com's Steve Bartram encourages United fans to give the Reds every chance of overcoming Barcelona and reaching next month's Champions League final...

At long last, Tuesday is here. Barcelona. At Old Trafford. For a place in the Champions League final. Games don’t get any bigger than this. If you’re one of some 70,000 United fans who have a ticket for this evening’s match, congratulations – but I hope you’re prepared to put in a hell of a shift.
 
Before tonight’s match, there will be mosaics at the Stretford End and the Scoreboard End. One shows an outline of the European Cup, flanked by the numbers 68 and 99, the other simply says ‘Believe’. It’s a simple maxim, but one we all have to follow.

There are doubtless large numbers of us still confusedly seething at Saturday’s defeat to Chelsea, worrying about the potential absence of Rooney and Vidic, or sweating at the concept of a Messi-led Barca hitting top form at Old Trafford.

That's only natural. What was a beginning to look like a Premier League stroll a month ago is now nothing of the sort, while just the name of Barcelona is enough to conjure images of deadly, incisive football - the kind which can leave dreams in tatters.

But if there's one thing we've learned from watching United down the years, it's that we fans will always be put through the wringer. On Saturday, six minutes, a late penalty and two goal-line clearances stood between a three-point summit lead and newspapers frothing with stories about the perceived collapse of United's season.

At the pinnacle of football, these are fine margins we’re dealing with. Which is why every possible advantage must be exploited tonight, in order to bring about a fitting end to what has been a monumental season.

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