There are moments Sir Alex Ferguson rues in past European expeditions; missed opportunities that fuel his burning desire to maintain a relentless pursuit to put United where he says the club belongs: among the continent’s elite.
Reigning European champions, the Reds are the dominant force despite Barcelona's protestations, but Sir Alex wants more trophies to prove it. He joked in Rome that his team-talk will come to him during a restless night's sleep. You can bet it’ll be a spine-tingler.
Just as equalling Liverpool's 18 league titles was never even considered ‘job done’, neither would becoming the first team to retain the Champions League. Sir Alex has bigger plans, but winning on Wednesday would be a good start, or rather a continuation.
“There’s an opportunity for us to put ourselves alongside Europe’s great teams. This is a squad with a great future, a young team withh experience to do well in the next few years. On Wednesday we can endorse that.
“To be considered a great team, you have to win the European Cup again. But there have been unlucky teams down the years. You have to win this cup, it's a prerequisite. Teams like ourselves and Barcelona have to win this trophy to be considered in that regard. But not everyone can win it.
“Nobody has retained the trophy,” he adds. “But we're good at firsts. We have a opportunity to repeat that. It’s interesting – unusual – that nobody has retained the trophy since the Champions League started. It was done regularly in the Sixties and Seventies. There were cycles of great teams, like Ajax, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. We have an opportunity to change that; I hope we take it.”