Genuine United fans will remember that the club suffered its darkest day todate in the 1958 Munich Air Disaster---a tragedy that has gone on to define our club.
European competition has since been taken to mean a lot for United as we were the pioneers of it in England at the time.
It is therefore easy to seee why Sir Alex has bemoaned our measely three trophies in European competition. However, that we won it in 2008, exactly 50 years after the crash that claimed 8 first team players and 15 others, it was a fitting tribute to our gone heroes.
The 2012 UEFA Champions League final will be held in the German capital this year, the scene of our grief about 55 years ago. Its therefore easy to see why this season's European road will be an emotional ride which we hope to at least be one of the teams that will contest the final next year; and hopefully go on to win it.
United have been handed the plum draw of he Group stages and you do feel that we should have qualification wrapped up by the end of October. Having said that, we start off with our most difficult opponents of the group; Benfica---our opponents in the 1968 European Cup final which we won as the first major tribute to the Busby Babes.
A win tomorrow night will surely make it ominous for the rest of the group as its is expected that if United are to slip in Europe, this is as possible as it will get for the group phase.
At the time of the draw, I was particularly pleased that we don't have the kind of tricky opposition in the group that can make striking a balance between European competition and the domestic league difficult. The draw should now give Sir Alex the perfect opportunity to utilise his players in Europe as well maintain the ethic in the team that has seen us lead the league from the kick-off.
The one surprise from the team that has travelled to Portugal is the absence of Rio Ferdinand. I'm only hopping that the manager has saved him for Chelsea on Sunday. Otherwise, United are set to name a string of experienced players for the game. It's therefore likely that we'll see the likes of Park, Giggs, Carrick, Valencia, Fletcher and the like play a huge part in this game.
Whatever the team, I'd like to see United take on Benfica with the same mentality that we've started the season with; Show no mercy, Take no Prisoners!
So COME ON UNITED!
Labels: UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE