Football has been left stunned by Barcelona’s dramatic comeback against Paris Saint-Germain, but we all know it still isn’t the greatest Champions League turnaround in history.
Having been trounced 4-0 in the first leg of their last-16 showdown, many didn’t give Barca a prayer of making it through to the quarter-finals.
However, a frankly ridiculous return fixture at the Nou Camp on Wednesday saw Luis Enrique’s side win 6-1 in the most thrilling match of recent times.
The Spaniards trailed 3-1 going into the last couple of minutes, needing three more goals to qualify, and a Neymar double and Sergi Roberto strike somehow pulled off the impossible.
It was incredible. The post-match hype will, rightly, continue – but many are calling it the greatest comeback in the history of the Champions League?!
It’s selective memory, this, isn’t it! It happens a lot, it’s always ‘the greatest’ nowadays.
But nothing will ever compare to Liverpool’s remarkable win over AC Milan in the 2005 final, when a 3-0 half-time deficit was levelled up, and the Reds went on to win on penalties.
To this day, it still feels unfathomable that Rafa Benitez’s men achieved such a feat, especially when you consider the calibre of that Milan side.
Their starting lineup was bordering on an all-time great XI, with Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta, Jaap Stam and Cafu a legendary defence, and Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf, Kaka and Andriy Shevchenko among the best players of their generation.
Liverpool, on the flip side, had Djimi Traore at left-back – Maldini would still have been superior had he been blindfolded on the night – while Milan Baros wasn’t fit to lace Shevchenko’s boots.
It was also a final, rather than a second round clash, when pressure is at its highest and the entire planet is tuning in.
The Barca side that produced this ‘miracle’ contain possibly the greatest front-three of all time in Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, and even at 4-0 down, they were never completely written off. Liverpool were.
“It was really impossible”, said midfielder Ivan Rakitic after the game. Nobody would say the same about Liverpool’s chances at half time.
Having the greatest footballer ever to grace the earth makes everything possible – having Harry Kewell hobbling off and an ageing Vladimir Smicer coming on as a substitute does not.
And are PSG as formidable as Milan? Of course not. They have a Man United reject in attack and play in a league only slightly stronger than the Liverpool & District Sunday League.
Credit to Barcelona for a momentous win, but once the dust settles, everyone will realise Istanbul is still on another level.