Ridiculous comeback flatters Barcelona

Barcelona's stirring UEFA Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain that captivated the whole football world should not disguise the fact that the Spanish team is in decline.

Sergio Roberto

Sergio Roberto scores Barca's winning goal Source: Getty Images Europe

This might seem an odd thing to say after the Blaugrana staged a comeback for the ages to turn a 4-0 deficit into a 6-1 rout.

It was the most extraordinary game I've ever had the privilege of watching and there can be no doubt that Barcelona's character - tremendous fighting spirit, pride in the team's colours and stoic refusal to be beaten - fully deserved the outcome.

Helped in no small measure by negative opponents who got their tactics horribly wrong and by a referee who was generous in key moments of the game, Barcelona turned the tie on its head in the most dramatic of ways to storm into the quarter-finals.

After this epic 'remontada', Barca's players will feel they can walk on water now.

Barca were two up at half time and came close to levelling the tie when they scored a third goal early in the second half but a strike from Edinson Cavani on the hour seemed to kill off the home team.

Barca kept plodding away but, despite their gallant efforts, they still needed three goals to get through in the 88th minute.

And it was Neymar who made it all possible with two goals and an assist in seven magical minutes to cap one of his finest and most influential games for the Spanish giants.

He first hit a magnificent free kick to make it 4-1, then slotted home a penalty after a blatant dive from Luis Suarez to make it 5-1 and in the 95th minute he played in substitute Sergio Roberto who sealed the greatest ever comeback in European club football history.

The 96,000 at the Camp Nou could not believe it and probably nor did the hundreds of millions around the world watching the drama unfold.

Barcelona naturally have received many plaudits for their extraordinary performance but it remains to be seen how much of it was due to them or the ineptness of the French champions.

PSG played as if they were afraid of their rivals and defended too deeply and too early, giving the home side the opportunity to dominate proceedings.

They also gave the ball away far too often and never gave themselves the chance of keeping the ball for any substantial periods of time to relieve the defence.

Barcelona could go on and win the whole thing in May yet it is very clear that today's team is a far cry from the one that mesmerised Europe with its superlative attacking football that ripped the heart out of every opposition.
Barca's forward thrusts were often erratic and it was indeed strange to see such a fine passer of the ball as Andres Iniesta struggle with his distribution.

Iniesta has not been the same this campaign and the series of injuries he incurred in the last two seasons might have blunted his skills.

Barcelona should thank their lucky stars that Brazilian star Neymar was in one of his most dazzling moods and it was his contribution from the word go - not Lionel Messi's or Suarez's - that won them the tie.

Barcelona no doubt will be seen as favourites to carry off the trophy but they will have to defend much better than they did in the two legs against PSG.

The French side ripped through Barca's defence at will whenever they chose to have a go in attack and in the second leg they had enough chances to put the tie to bed but missed them through Cavani and Angel Di Maria.

Barca will not find any more naive and accommodating opponents as PSG at the business end of the competition.

Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Have a story or comment? Contact Us

Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Watch nowOn Demand
Follow SBS Sport
4 min read
Published 9 March 2017 at 2:00pm
By Philip Micallef
Source: SBS