As the famous saying goes, 'it's the hope that kills you'. And for River Plate's backline in the lead up to the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2015 final, there was plenty to cling on to where the trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were concerned.
Illness and injury had ruled out the 'M' and 'N' of Barcelona's *MSN *strike force respectively for their sweeping 3-0 victory over Guangzhou Evergrande in the semi-finals. With two of their three prongs blunted, even with Suarez in electric form having bagged a hat-trick against the Asian champions, River fans would have been hopeful of their team's chances.
However, the revelation from Barça coach Luis Enrique on the eve of the clash that "both of them are getting better" would have sent a chill down the spines of many a *Millonarios *devotee. And come the moment before kick-off in Yokohama's International Stadium, with line-ups already revealed, seeing the world's deadliest frontline waiting for you is no doubt enough to give even the champions of South America a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomachs. For a defender in 2015, there's arguably no worse sight in football.
It would have been a feeling well-founded too, as the triple threat of world-class talent did the job for the side from Spain. Two goals from Suarez, another for Messi and a pair of assists provided by Neymar saw the title decided in slick and sublime fashion. Now whoever sees this same vision in tunnels over the next 12 months will also have the additionally intimidating sight of a FIFA World Champions badge adorning each of their chests.