Some stories are made in heaven. They are the kind of stories that start with once upon a time. They are the kind of stories that go down the history as legends because if they were told as events that happened, people just won’t believe them. Unbelievable stories. Miraculous.
In the history of soccer champions league, it never happened that a team that lost the first-leg by 4 goals, comes back and wins the second-leg with as many as 6 goals. It had never happened. Just until 5 minutes ago.
Barcelona, FC Barcelona, Football Club Barcelona, or Just Barca lost the first-leg of the knockout stage (round-of-16) of European soccer champions league to Paris Saint-Germain FC (PSG) by 4 goals. Barca played a lousy game in Paris on 14 February 2017, Valentines 2017. PSG scored 4 goals. Barca, the powerhouse of soccer — a soccer empire, was brought down to its knees. Paris, the city of love, rose to power on Valentine’s day 2017.
Paris, the city of love, rose to power on Valentine’s day 2017.
Commentators, critics, analysts, pundits, and almost everyone except Barcelona fans read Barca off and wrote the name of PSG in the quarter finals of champions league.
The second-leg of the game was to be held on March 8, 2017. International Women’s Day. The day that the Barca Kingdom retreats and returns to the battlefield with a cautious optimism.
Barca coach Luis Enrique said in a press conference before the game, “if a team can score 4 goals against us, we can score 6 goals against them.” A pity prophecy by a coach who had lost all the probabilities of remaining in the champions league.
Barcelona had to score at least 4 goals to take the game into an extra time of 30 minutes. In the meantime, they could not afford to concede a single goal. A single goal for PSG would be their away goal, and that meant they would win the tie with an advantage away goal. There would be not extra time even if Barca scored 5 goals. In that scenario, Barca needed to score 6 goals.
On March 8, 2017, the game between Barcelona and PSG started at Camp Nou stadium with an audience of 95,000 people. Barcelona had 90 minutes to score at least 4 goals. Barcelona scored its first goal in the 3rd minute of the game. The game continued slow and both teams played cautiously. The second Barca goals came before half-time in the 40th minute. The deficit was cut in half by half-time.
After 15 minutes of break, which lasted a long time for the 95 thousand spectators, the game started. Four minutes into the game, Iniesta throws the ball in the penalty box for Neymar, who gets a foul and a penalty. Messi scored the Penalty in the 50th minute.
Bang! One more to go and they were tie.
PSG stepped up their game, took risk by coming forward and pressing Barca in their own field. PSG scored their away goal at the 62th minute, shutting down the roars of 90 thousand Barcelona fans in the stadium.
One of the PSG players, Angel Di Maria, shushed Barca fans.
It was time for the 5 thousand PSG fans in the stadium to party.
It took Barca 53 minutes to score 3 goals. They only had 28 minutes to score another 3 goals.
Seventy minutes of the game passed by, 80 minutes, 85 minutes. No hopes. Only 5 minutes remained and 3 goals to score. IMPOSSIBLE. Never happened in the history of champions league.
88th minute. There was a foul on Neymar outside the box. He curled the ball above the defense and made it disappear in the right corner of the goal, INTO the net. Two more to go.
Ninty thousand people at the stadium found a bleak of home at once. They did not make as much of a noise. 2 minutes to go and 2 goals. IMPOSSIBLE.
90th minute. Messi threw a perfect ball from the mid-field for Suarez who got another penalty. Neymar stepped up to take the penalty and scored. Hesitant roars rose from pockets of the spectators in the stadium. Hope returned in the noise of the crowd. The natural roar that would typically annoy any person turned into a music. Five minutes of wasted time was added. The team had 5 minutes to score one more goal and make history. The aggregate score was 5 – 5. PSG had an advantage away goal.
91st minute passed, 92, 93, and 94.
94th minute, 40 seconds. Only 20 seconds remained. The goalkeeper of Barcelona Ter Stegen was also in the PSG field. All Barca players were strikers now. There was no defense, no midfielder. Only strikers. The goalkeeper got a foul in the field of PSG and Neymar threw the ball into the crowd. A PSG defender headed the ball out. Neymar took control of the ball, pretended to kick but dribbled with the right foot, and crossed the ball with his weaker foot inside the penalty box. Sergio Roberto beats the offside line, stretches his right leg like a lion, and touches the ball, INTO THE NET.
Among all the Barca players, Sergio Roberto beat the offside line, throw himself at the ball by stretching his right leg like a lion, and touched the ball against the PSG keeper, INTO THE NET.
“I am not when was the last time I had seen something like this, Miraculous.” The commentator of the channel I was watching said. The roar of the crowd in the stadium was loud enough to shake Barcelona city. History was made. People all around the world responded; twitter and facebook was taken by storm, videos of crazy celebrations from commentators running in the broadcasting stadium to teenagers tearing their shirts in their own living rooms were posted all over the internet.
BARCELONA 6 – PSG 1.
Barcelona went to the quarter-finals for the 10th time in a row. They undid the 4-0 defeat of the first-leg, with a 6-1 win in the second-leg.
This comeback should be made into a movie. Whenever you tell this story, start with once upon a time there was a team called Barca. There were legendary players in the team. Messi was their captain. This time around rose to the occasion a soccer-gladiator called Neymar. They created a miracle. The miracle was called, Barca.
Just to remind you again. It was March 8, 2017.
International Women’s Day beat Valentine’s. The power of women overcame the taste of love.
Go, Barca, Go.