Michael Carrick has admitted the tingle of anticipation he gets from the Champions League is something no other competition can match.
Carrick flies out to France on Tuesday with his Manchester United team-mates for a testing last-16 clash with Marseille. The 1993 winners may only have just returned to prominence in their native land under former Chelsea midfielder Didier Deschamps, but they represent a significant examination of United's credentials.
And, after Tottenham and Arsenal both achieved superb results last week, the pressure is on Sir Alex Ferguson's men and Carrick said: "The buzz you get with the Champions League is something that no other competition brings."
He added: "It was strange watching Tottenham and Arsenal last week and not being involved. We have had to wait an extra week but we are ready for it."
United will be coming across an old boy in Gabriel Heinze, who spent three seasons at Old Trafford before an acrimonious departure in 2007, when the Red Devils refused to allow the Argentina full-back to join Liverpool.
Heinze eventually left for Real Madrid instead, moving on to Marseille two years later, since when he has become a key member of their defence.
Whether the 32-year-old can contain former team-mate Wayne Rooney is another matter. Rooney might have been in a bad mood during his second-half contribution to Saturday's narrow FA Cup win over non-league Crawley, but seven days previously he had scored what has been hailed as one of the best goals Old Trafford has ever seen.
As a top-level professional, performing an overhead kick should be nothing special to Carrick. However, even he was staggered by the manner Rooney took his chance.
"I felt shock and surprise because it was completely out of the blue," said the 29-year-old. "But at the same time there was pure elation. I was standing on the touchline about to come on and thought of doing a (Jose) Mourinho down the line.
"Straight away you knew you'd witnessed something special."
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