I recently received two tickets for the Olympique de Marseille/Manchester United Champion’s League match that will be held at the Stade Vélodrome later this month. Giddy hardly describes my state. I have actually twice suffered nightmares where I was late for the game and running through metro corridors, tears of frustration streaming down my face as I missed metro after metro.
I am vaguely optimistic about the match. Despite Wayne Rooney’s recent brilliance and Paul Scholes ageless form, I believe we can compete with Manchester. We have solid goalkeeping, a defensive line with European experience, and our 18-million euro striker, Andre-Pierre Gignac, is finally hitting stride with four goals in his last five matches.
No, what’s really troubling me about this match is how to describe it. It is certainly the biggest game to be held in Marseille in years, but in how many? In 2003, when we had Didier Drogba, we played a UEFA Cup semi-final against Newcastle in Marseille. Now, obviously, the UEFA Cup (C3) is an inferior competition, fielding teams that didn’t qualify for or got booted out of the Champion’s League (C1). But, it was a semi-final, not a round of sixteen match, and since this sport is all about winning trophies the semi-final had us much closer to silverware than this coming match.
Is the 2011 Manchester match bigger than the 2003 Newcastle match? I like to think so, but I am biased because I am attending and I want it considered as momentous as possible. So, I turn to the football knowledgeable among you: Is a round of 16 (1/8) C1 match more important than a C3 semi-final (1/2)?