Call it the match that matters, mother of all contests or the clash that counts - but one thing’s for sure, not a single hyperbole does justice to the magnitude of emotions the Manchester derby evokes!
In terms of fanaticism, the clash between Manchester United and Manchester City - dubbed as the Manchester derby - is second to none, be it the El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona or the epic Superclasico between Boca Juniors and River Plate.
Perhaps a victory will quell the rage within United fans that has raged since the noisy neighbours trumped them in the dying hours of their penultimate game against QPR last season. And though the Reds’ 20th victory is upon them, a loss at the Etihad will lessen the sweetness of victory. So, the icing on the cake is what the devils will be vying for. Also on-course to winning the title last season, the Citizens defeated United on both the legs; Sir Alex Fergusson’s men will be aiming to do the double this time around.
City fans on the other hand - were until last week - looking at meeting their arch-rivals two more times this season. But as it turns out, United were handed a defeat by the hands of Chelsea and this is the only derby left this season. So, it puts things in a new light.
The victor of the tie gets the bragging rights. In United’s case, their victory will be complete having conquered the final frontier. In City’s case, it could be the consolation win, which - either with or without the FA Cup - will soothe the aching souls of ousted defending champions’ fans.
The last Manchester Derby at the Etihad finished on a dramatic note when United defender Rio Ferdinand was struck by a coin hurled at him by one of the spectators. It will be the ‘return leg’ for the accident and Old Trafford officials will be wary of any rebuttal of the sorry incident. And having conceded the first leg 3-2 at the Eithad, Citizens will look to redeem themselves at Old Trafford.
Although his mainstay in the earlier half of the season, Robin van Persie has failed to fire in the last nine games. When it comes to forwards, Sir Alex will have plenty of other options to fall back on. Apart from Wayne Rooney, he could call upon Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, Danny Welbeck or Shinji Kagawa to get him the goals.
City on the other hand is on a resurgent curve, having lost just once in their last seven games. But the Blues’ strike force of Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez has scored fewer goals than last season and they will rely heavily on Yaya Toure and David Silva for penetrating the Red fort.
All-in-all it promises to be a cracker of a contest with tempers and sentiments flaring. And one can only hope that there isn’t a repeat of any ugly incident from the past that Manchester derbies are so notorious for.