sports gazette

MIDWEEK MATTERS: Champions League comebacks, Barcelona or Liverpool?

Published: 9 Mar 2017

Barcelona's historic comeback against PSG is undeniably one of the greatest ever seen. But does it beat Liverpool's famous victory over AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League Final? Sports Gazette discusses.

Barcelona vs. PSG, 8th March 2017

Ross Champion - Tennis and Cycling Editor

On Wednesday night, Barcelona became the first team ever to overturn a four-goal first-leg deficit in the history of European cup ties.

This fact alone propels Barca’s achievement into the annals of sporting folklore, but, let’s be honest, it doesn’t even tell half the story of a truly historic night at the Nou Camp.

At the start of the night, the task was monumental.

However, a Luis Suarez goal after just three minutes was the perfect start and gave Barcelona fans hope that the improbable could be achieved.

Two further goals five minutes either side of half time made it 3-0 and, at this point, the Catalan side were probably favourites to go through.

Then, disaster struck. Edinson Cavani took advantage of Barcelona’s gung-ho tactics to score an all important away goal for PSG - leaving Barca needed another three goals to qualify.

Cue BT Sport being switched off at the rate of Sunderland fans streaming out of the Stadium of Light on the 35 minute mark of almost any given Saturday this season.

It was done. Over. No chance.

The 70th minute came and went, as did the 80th and 85th - Barcelona fans just waiting until their Champions League exit was made official.

But Neymar had other ideas. He scored a delicious 88th minute free-kick before converting from the spot in the 91st to set up a frantic last few minutes.

He then turned provider to set up Sergi Roberto’s 95th-minute winner to send football fans worldwide into delirium.

Granted, it wasn’t in a Champions League final and there’s no doubt that Liverpool’s comeback was remarkable - needing three goals in 45 minutes. But Barca needed the same amount in just EIGHT.

To build up hope, see it seemingly irreversibly dashed, and then pull off the most extraordinary revival imaginable makes this achievement surely the greatest in European history.

For the rest of your life, you’ll remember where you were when Barcelona did the impossible.

Liverpool vs. AC Milan, 25th May 2005

Guy Giles, Editor

There is no way in the world that anyone can deny the breathtaking and historic nature of Barcelona’s comeback against PSG.

Not only was this technically the greatest Champions League comeback in history, with no team ever having come back from 4-0 down on aggregate, it was also one of the greatest games of football we will ever see.

For Barca to go 3-0 up and concede such a crucial away goal, before somehow finding three goals in the last eight minutes, is something that many of us will never live to see again.

However, until someone comes back from 4-0 down at half-time in the Champions League final, Liverpool’s victory over AC Milan in 2005 will always be the greatest comeback in the competition’s history.

A Liverpool side containing some bang-average players, including Steve Finnan and Djimi Traore, fighting back from 3-0 down against a Milan side awash with world-class talent, will take more beating than an undeniably exceptional Barcelona team beating a PSG side who forgot how to kick a ball for the vast majority of 90 minutes.

Let’s remind ourselves of that Milan team shall we? In goal they had Dida, one of the best goalkeepers in the world at the time. Their defence was made up of Brazilian World Cup-winning captain Cafu, Dutch legend Jaap Stam, and Italian stallions Nesta and Maldini. In midfield they had the ever-mercurial Andrea Pirlo and the combative Gennaro Gattuso, playing alongside Clarence Seedorf, one of the most decorated midfielders in European history, and Kaka, the last man to win the Ballon D’or who isn’t Ronaldo or Messi. Leading the line was Andriy Shevchenko, who among other things is the fifth-most prolific goalscorer in European competition, and Hernan Crespo, who scored two goals before half-time to set the scene for Liverpool’s historic comeback.

That is not to mention that this took place on the biggest stage of them all in world club football.

As I said before, until a side outdoes Liverpool’s heroics on such a stage, and against such a team, their victory will remain standing strong as the greatest of all time in the Champions League. 

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