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  1. A game that has nothing riding on it for us as we’ve already fulfilled our first goal by qualifying for the knockout stage with 2 games to spare. We have been a class apart from the rest of the group, and on the face of it this game gives Jurgen an opportunity to give some players a rest and others an opportunity. I say ‘on the face of it’ because a number of those who could do with games are currently sidelined so it’s hard to say what the manager will do. Anyway: Firepower. Urgency. Composure. Know-how. Organisation. Ferocity. Flexibility. Moxie. Order. Utter control. Maximum concentration. Outstanding performances. Utter belief. I don’t ask for much. We have dismantled the Portuguese side in recent years, attacking them from all angles and punishing their lethargy as they simply did not know whether to press or drop back. They’ve ended up doing neither, leaving gaps everywhere and getting picked off. We play to a greater intensity than most teams in the world and, even if sides handle it during a game against us, they appear to feel it for weeks afterwards. Playing in the Portuguese league and being one of 3 dominant teams, that level of intensity is not something the likes of Porto will be used to. The games used to be much tighter. During our 2001 UEFA Cup run, we met them in the quarter finals. The first leg in Porto had been a very cagey affair where we merely kept it tight, sat back and looked to hit them on the counter. It was a typical European away performance, and most of our European games that season followed that pattern. We were much more expansive in the second leg at Anfield in mid-March 2001.Murphy and Owen scored 2 fairly scruffy goals against a team that looked shell-shocked by the atmosphere under the Anfield lights. This was the pre-Mourinho era but they still had Deco and Alenichev in the team – two players who scored in their Champions League final win just 3 years later. We were too good for them and the win set up a semi final against a Barcelona team that no longer contained Figo but still had the likes of Rivaldo, Xavi and Kluivert. And Pepe Reina of course. The number one film at the box office in March 2001 was Steven Seagal actioner Exit Wounds. I’ve seen it but I cannot remember it at all. Seagal movies are like that. You’ve probably seen more than you realise because they’re all so samey. He kicks some arse,says very little, speaks in a slightly raspy voice and dons his singular cardboard cut-out facial expression. Jason Statham raised the bar years later by adding ‘incredulous’ and ‘tired of this shit’ facial expressions to all the arse-kicking and even raspier-voiced direlogue. It’s hard to know what we’ll do for this one. There’s a chance to fuck up Diego Simeone’s chances of progress with Atletico but I’m pretty certain the boss is only focussed on his team. Injury avoidance is probably the big thing he’ll want to take away from this one. I’m certain he will want to avoid defeat, and I’m with him on both counts. It’s the last game away in Milan that really doesn’t matter. For now, let’s build some momentum while several players slowly return to the squad after injury. After all, momentum is everything. Whoever is selected, just go in there and get the job done. Oh, and avoid any exit wounds.
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