Here’s a quote from Monday’s Irish Examiner: “There’s a mental scrapbook of past experiences that may half-convince some to fantasise, but realism will strike tomorrow whether you want it to or not.”
It might be hard to imagine Graeme Souness, the Roy Keane of his era, taking to the pitch for even a routine assignment with anything other than his most ferocious battle face on but, as he revealed in his Sunday newspaper column at the weekend, he and his Liverpool team mates were “larking around like 12-year-olds” in the tunnel before they walked out to play Roma in the latter’s own backyard in the 1984 European Cup final.
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde will not encourage striker Luis Suarez to play with any less aggression than usual in tonight’s Copa del Rey semi-final second leg (8.30pm) against Valencia despite being one yellow card away from missing the final.
In preparing to face the threat of Danish dangerman Christian Eriksen in the World Cup play-off, Martin O’Neill believes his players are entitled to take encouragement from how they coped in the recent past with other standout stars like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gareth Bale and the Bosnian duo of Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic.
All week the build-up to Barcelona’s visit to Atletico Madrid on Saturday night had centred on the difficult political situation in Spain, with a push towards independence in Catalonia, and the central authorities in the capital pushing back.