For football fans and players alike, Champions League nights are always an occasion to be savoured a point emphasised this week by Eric Bailly and Romelu Lukaku.
The two Manchester United players both featured during the Reds’ group stage campaign and will be vying for a place in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side for Tuesday night’s game against Paris Saint-Germain, which has all the makings of being a cracker under the lights at Old Trafford.
Bailly, who came off the bench as a substitute in Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Fulham, recalled all the elements that make a European night so special.
“It’s a huge motivation to have a match like PSG coming up on Tuesday,“ the Ivorian said. “It’s something that really gets your emotions going. It’s a really big deal, the knock-out stages of the Champions League. It’s the thing that motivates you more than anything else. The whole package; the music, the stadium, the fans, it’s something that gives you a lift.”
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The Reds have taken to the training pitch before Tuesday’s Champions League fixture.
As for Lukaku, the Belgian is relishing the opportunity of coming up against one of the top sides in European football. The Ligue 1 club have a plethora of big names in their squad such as Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani, even if it is likely to only be Mbappe who features at Old Trafford.
Romelu is ready for the challenge and sees it as a perfect way of assessing how far the Reds have come since Solskjaer took charge in December.
“We’re playing against maybe one of the best sides in Europe,” he said.
“And I think it will be a real challenge for us because PSG in Europe, in the last couple of years, have always tried to win the tournament. We want to try to go all the way too.”
“It’ll be a nice game for the neutral fan but, for us, it’s going to be a really good challenge to see where we are at, but we’re ready for the challenge.
”Mbappe can play all over the front line, he’s like a winger-striker and can play at no.10. Cavani is an out-and-out striker, just like me. You just know that both of them are really dangerous but we also have dangerous forwards. And, for their defenders, it’s more a question of how they feel about playing against us!
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With Tuesday’s game set to be one of the most important of the season so far, Old Trafford will be at fever pitch, with Bailly hoping the fans can help play their part in getting a positive result ahead of the second leg in Paris.
“The fans being right behind us is always vital,” the centre-back said.
“I describe all our fans as our 12th man because they drive us on, they give us even more confidence and the desire to give everything you have for them, because they are the people who turn up, the fans.
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“They leave everything they have to do at home behind them and come to watch the game with a lot of passion. So we need to make them happy! What we really need to do is show that coming here to win on our own pitch at Old Trafford is no easy thing at all to achieve.”
Meanwhile, Lukaku added:
“In France, they have beautiful stadiums but I don’t think the atmosphere is the same as Old Trafford. They call it the Theatre of Dreams for a reason and I think it will be a good moment for us to impress the whole world with how we play.”