Sunday, May 27, 2018

Barcelona comeback best ever in the Champions League

David Nugent in Editorial, UEFA Champions League 9 Mar 2017


Barcelona players celebrate scoring the goal that saw them through to the quarter-final of the Champions League

Barcelona recorded what will likely go down as one of the greatest comebacks of all time on Wednesday night. The Blaugrana started the game needing to win 4-0 to take their Champions League tie against PSG into extra-time.

How the comeback happened

The Spanish giants scored first half goals through Luis Suarez and a poor own goal from Layvin Kurzawa after a fantastic piece of skill from Andres Iniesta.

When Lionel Messi scored a third goal early in the second half it looked like the comeback was on. The comeback seemed to have been ended when PSG scored an away goal just after the hour mark through Edinson Cavani. The goal meant Barcelona needed three goals to progress.

Suddenly the Nou Camp fell silent and the belief that was once there seemed to have evaporated. However, the Barcelona players kept believing and kept going. It was not until the 88th minute and a fantastic free-kick from Neymar that the Catalan giants scored their fourth.

A consolation many thought. Not Barcelona, though. In the first minute of injury-time striker Luis Suarez went down in the area under a challenge and the referee pointed to the spot. There was hope and Neymar dispatched the spot-kick beyond Kevin Trapp.

It was Neymar involved in that history-making sixth goal in the 95th minute as well. The ball fell to the Brazilian midway in the PSG half and instead of just launching the ball back in, he cut inside and chipped a perfectly weighted ball into the box and the found Sergi Roberto who volleyed past Trapp and pandemonium prevailed.

Everybody got involved in the celebrations, as it seemed that nobody of the Barcelona persuasion cared that the game had not actually finished. In truth, though, the PSG players and staff knew they had blown their chance of finishing the job they had started in the French capital.

The sixth goal was virtually the last kick of a pulsating tie that began with PSG hammering the Spanish giants in Paris in the first leg. Despite being written-off the Spanish champions never stopped playing or believing.

Nothing should be taken away from Barcelona

Since the game finished there has been all sorts of criticism about how Barcelona always get the decisions, blah, blah, blah and that Barcelona are cheats and this and that. The Suarez penalty was a soft one, but these things happen in football.

Fans accusing Barcelona players of simulation need to realise that sadly that is the nature of the game. Numerous PSG players did the same throughout the tie.

I would ask those conspiracy theorists did the referee score that sublime free-kick for the fourth goal? Did the referee volley home with virtually the last kick of the game? The answer is no.

If PSG had got their tactics right and defended that massive lead they would have gone through it is as simple as that. The Nou Camp is one of the most difficult football arenas to win at for opposition teams in the world.

However, a top coach would have come up with a better plan to defend a four-goal lead. Questions will now be asked about Unai Emery’s abilities and future. The French club even have the unusual situation of having a fight on their hands to win Ligue One, with Monaco bang in form.

Favourites again to lift the trophy

Following their stunning comeback, Barcelona are once again the favourites to win the Champions League at odds of 11/4. The Spanish giants were favourites prior to the first leg of the tie with PSG, but understandably their odds went very long after the four-goal disaster.

No team will want to face Barcelona in the quarter-finals. The Catalan giants seem to be back to something close to their best and have even forced their way back into the title race in La Liga.

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique has already have decided to leave the club in the summer. However, he now has the chance of leaving on the back of another Champions League triumph following last night’s epic comeback.

There have been crazy comebacks in the past in the Champions League, like Liverpool in Istanbul or Manchester United scoring two late goals in the Nou Camp to win the trophy 2-1 against Bayern Munich in 1999.

However, for me, this is the greatest comeback I have ever seen in the competition. The game and the tie had absolutely everything and is the reason we watch football.

Was Barcelona’s comeback on Wednesday night the greatest ever?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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