Time to roll out the clichés and get all dewy-eyed with nostalgia – Liverpool Football Club have a big European night at Anfield.
That is if you call a Europa League last-32 second leg against Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg a big European night, because it goes without saying that they used to be a whole lot bigger in days gone by – and not even in the distant past, either.
Nevertheless, the premise of all those famous Anfield nights is the same and you can be sure the checklist will be trotted out by fans and media who love nothing more than to perpetuate the legend.
You all know the script: scarves, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, the repertoire of songs and, more often than not, Liverpool emerging triumphant from the matches against Europe’s elite, sometimes from a position of adversity.
That is exactly the scenario Liverpool find themselves in when Zenit arrive on Merseyside to defend a 2-0 lead given to them by goals from Hulk and Sergei Semak and it is a situation even the best Liverpool teams have struggled to overcome.
Eleven times the Reds have trailed by two or more goals in a two-legged European tie and only once have they overcome the deficit in the second match.
While you would presume that would have come under one of Bob Paisley’s great teams (or even Rafa Benitez’s accomplished European sides), that victory came, ironically, under Graeme Souness, who managed to get one of the worst Liverpool teams in 50 years to overturn a 2-0 first-leg loss to Auxerre in 1991.
But the fact that even great Liverpool sides have infrequently turned around matches shows what a task the Reds have tonight.
Brendan Rodgers, never one to knowingly undersell himself when it comes to trying to connect with the club’s glorious past, has been at it this week, asking the crowd to summon ‘the power of Anfield’ in a bid to extend this year’s European run and their only remaining hope of a trophy.
With Liverpool currently seventh in the Premier League when not even sixth is yet guaranteed to qualify for the Europa League, to get knocked out on Thursday could represent Liverpool’s last European action for at least 18 months and it is a sign of where the club is right now that the prospect is hardly surprising.
So it puts extra emphasis on the team to do the business. Can they do it? Well, Liverpool are 3/5 to win the match, with the draw at 29/10 and Zenit 17/4 to silence Anfield with a victory.
Punting on Liverpool has been notoriously difficult this season. Just when you think they have cracked it, they throw in a 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa, or a 2-0 loss to West Brom, so you can’t be having a price as short as 3/5 on them beating a side as good as the Russian champions.
As they demonstrated last week, Zenit have some great attacking flair and their domestic away record is superb, having lost just two of the last 25. On the basis of that, combined with their brilliant counter-attacking skills, you can see them scoring a vital away goal.
But their European away form is poor. Luciano Spalletti’s side have lost six of their last nine trips on the continent and haven’t won any of their last seven away ties in the knock-out round.
In fact, you have to go back to February 2009 for the last time they won a European away fixture at the elimination stage and that record puts me off the 17/4.
With Liverpool so up and down, you can’t really trust them either, but one man you can trust is Luis Suarez and at even money to score during the 90 minutes, he looks like the safest bet.
The Uruguayan missed a hat-trick of sitters last week, but he can make amends with a goal at Anfield.
Zenit looked wide open in the first match and Liverpool will surely score against a side with just seven clean sheets in their last 25 away games.
And Suarez can once more be the man. He has 21 goals for Liverpool this season, 15 of which have come at Anfield, and at even money he looks a great bet to bag yet another goal (he is 4/1 to score first if that tickles your fancy, which it probably should).
Whether that is enough to help Liverpool advance to the last 16 remains to be seen.