Anfield is bustling with fans and expectation, the Kop is in full voice and English opposition await at the business end of a major European competition.
Liverpool host Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday night and the Reds have been in this situation before.
In April 1973, Anfield was not the headquarters of European power it was to become — there were 42,000 there on this night, whereas 56,000 had turned up for the third-round FA Cup-tie against Burnley.
Alec Lindsay (second right) fires Liverpool towards a first leg UEFA Cup win over Tottenham
But Bill Shankly had the ‘This Is Anfield’ sign erected a year earlier and the message to visitors was that here was a place to behold, here was a ground in the process of becoming a fortress.
Anfield had already enjoyed heady European occasions — Liverpool had reached three European semi-finals under Shankly before 1973. They had won one to reach the 1966 Cup-Winners’ Cup final, which was lost to Borussia Dortmund. The defeat hurt Shankly. Europe mattered to him.
So Liverpool were yet to win a European trophy when they were drawn against Tottenham in the semi-final of the UEFA Cup in 1973. Tottenham were holders — the year before had been the UEFA Cup’s inaugural season as it evolved from the Fairs Cup. In a two-legged final, Spurs beat Wolves 3-2.
And Spurs had been to Anfield 10 days earlier in the League and drawn 1-1. Pat Jennings saved two Liverpool penalties, from Kevin Keegan and Tommy Smith.
Martin Peters struck for Spurs in the second leg but Liverpool progressed on away goals
Tottenham had knocked Liverpool out of the League Cup in the last eight with a 3-1 victory at White Hart Lane in a replay. Spurs did not come to Anfield for the first leg to be pushed over.
Still, Bill Nicholson and his players understood the size of their task — Liverpool had been top of the League since September bar a fortnight. Spurs’ last win at Anfield had been in 1912. More relevant and concerning was that Jennings had missed the previous match at Southampton.
Nicholson, however, was able to name the great Irishman on the teamsheet and Jennings repaid him with a typically obdurate display. He did not save penalties this time,