If Saracens are going to become just the second club to be crowned European champions three times consecutively, they are going to have to do it the hard way.
A trip to Ospreys this Saturday night in the evening kick-off will be make or break for Mark McCall’s side, and while the Pro14 side have not been in the best of form in 2017/18, recent wins over the Dragons and Cardiff Blues came off the back of convincing home and away victories against Pool 2 whipping boys Northampton Saints.
There’s also the fresh memories of the October clash between these two sides to consider when, having lost both Dan Lydiate and Justin Tipuric ahead of kick-off and Rhys Webb sidelined, they pushed the reigning champions to the death in a 36-34 defeat at Allianz Park. Webb and Lydiate are back and firing on all cylinders, while a dangerous back line features Wales internationals Dan Biggar, Owen Watkin, Sam Davies and Dan Evans – who scored a marvellous double three months ago in north London.
Saracens are not quite the same side either though, and while the much-needed return of Billy Vunipola last week inspired the 38-12 victory over Wasps, it will be the inclusion of Liam Williams on the wing on Saturday that will catch the eye for fans of both sides.
Many of those wearing Ospreys black this weekend will be hoping to cheer on Williams in Wales red come the Six Nations, and having not played since suffering a groin injury in Wales’ victory over Georgia during the November, the British and Irish Lion will feel he has to make up for lost time in order to reassert himself as Warren Gatland’s most dangerous attacking option.
McCall has no worries about Williams remaining in one piece on his return – though accepted that bringing players back from injury can always be a “gamble” – given that, as Vunipola showed last weekend, there are certain players who can do that little bit extra that makes it a risk worth taking.
“We’ve taken our time but he…