7.12.04

We just need to believe it is possible


Okay, I'm officially excited. Tonight my beloved Celtic play hosts to one of Europe's greatest football clubs, the mighty AC Milan. Am I worried? Well, yes, I am a little bit. We really need to win tonight to ensure our place in the UEFA cup. We can't rely on Barcelona doing us a favour in Donetsk. What will happen? Too close to call. If we win, we're through regardless of what happens in the Ukraine. If we draw, we have to hope that Barcelona get at least a draw. If we lose, we have to hope that Barcelona win. Will we do it? It will be very, very difficult to win against Milan - they have some of the best players in the world on their books, and they need to win tonight to ensure themselves of top place in the group - but, then, so do Barcelona (and they must be hoping that we can take some points off Milan). Our draw a couple of weeks ago in Barcelona has given us a fighting chance of staying in European competition. In an act of desperate clutching at straws, we can always point out that the last Italian team to come to Celtic Park on Champions League business was Juventus (another giant of European football) three years ago, and we beat them by the odd goal in a seven-goal thriller of a match. Even more desperate is the news, carried by the Sunday Rangers... sorry, Sunday Mail, that our former hero, Henrik Larsson, who now makes his living as a Barcelona player, has worn his heart on his sleeve, and offered to take all of his Barcelona team-mates out for a slap-up meal if they can do Celtic a favour and thrash Shaktar Donetsk. I know that this is probably a made-up story, but it would be nice to think that it contains a germ of truth. Our greatest fear is that Barcelona, who have already qualified, may decide that it is too cold in the Ukraine, and may be unwilling to risk getting their star players injured in what is, to them, a relatively meaningless match. Still, the same is true of Milan - they've already qualified too. One thing is for certain, though, Shaktar are a very good side, and they are well capable of getting a result at home. So. I'm excited and worried. I need to work all day just to keep my mind off it. But come 7.45pm, I will be sitting in front of my TV, with a horseshoe above my head, a rabbit's foot in my pocket, my 'lucky' t-shirt on my back and every single finger crossed. C'mon the Bhoys. Hail, hail!

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