Soccer is an all-season sport that is often played on snowy pitches in the dead of winter. It is not, however, traditionally played on a frozen tundra that, when you step on it, makes sounds like you’re walking on a frozen pond. And yet that may be the case for Manchester United’s away trip to Ukraine tomorrow:
Ukrainian club Zorya Luhansk are set to host United in the Europa League tomorrow, though not in their home stadium in Luhansk. Instead, this game will be played in the city of Odessa. Because of the ongoing violence in the area between Ukrainian forces and Russian rebels, Zorya have been forced to abandon Luhansk. The team hasn’t played a match in their home stadium in over two years.
And Odessa in December is extremely cold. Forecasts put the temperature tomorrow at -7 degrees Celsius, and as you can see in the video above, all this cold weather has turned the ground into a sheet of solid ice. UEFA officials will test the pitch early tomorrow to decide if the match should go ahead as scheduled, and groundskeepers are on hand to attempt to get the pitch into something more closely resembling a field of grass.
If this doesn’t inspire Zlatan Ibrahimović and Paul Pogba to score 50 goals between themselves in the Premier League this season and drag United back into the Champions League, nothing will.