For a moment it was an eruption of emotions, followed by a brief moment of disbelief to realize that Barcelona did the unimaginable! They did what no other team have ever done before! They overcame the deficit of 4 goals from the Champions League first leg in knockout phase and went through! It was a night to remember and all those who were watching this amazing return leg were probably not realizing how they are witnessing something that will go down in the football history known as ”The Miracle of Camp Nou!”
There was always a question mark over Barcelona potential second leg performance. Everyone were thinking for themselves could this team really do it? They were thinking, but nobody dared to say it out loud. Only some whispers were to be heard – if there was ever a team that can score 4 or more goals on any given night, it was this Barcelona team. They can always outscore their opponent.
Manager who is about to leave, team that need reinforcements, not convincing performances, undefined strongest lineup, off form players, all together made a strong mix to intensify the doubts over possible turnaround. Yet it turned that Enrique’s decision to leave was the best thing that happened to this team for the whole season. He liberated them.
Even with a different style, Barcelona players rediscovered their joy for football and freedom to play the game. This was a completely different Barcelona to the one that was destroyed by PSG in the first leg. Barcelona that turned out last night were convincing and sure about what they want. They were a team on the mission, driven, not by the unmatched technical and tactical superiority over their rivals, but the pure desire to prove that they are not finished yet. Their belief that they could turn the tie around never went away and their search for the goal that was going to put them through lasted until the 95th minute when Sergi Roberto scored.
What a game it was. It was the most unbelievable Champions League comeback ever.
When Suarez scored in the 3rd minute there was a glimpse of hope that something might be possible. But the 3 goals there were yet to score, while not conceding, were still too big of a mountain to climb. The opportunities started appearing and it was as if PSG have come only thinking about their own net, starting to panic more and more as Barcelona players were combining all over their part of the field.
There weren’t that many opportunities, which is unusual at Camp Nou. But on the night everything was set for a miracle to happen. Barcelona players faced the mountain and managed to climb over it. The second goal raised the believes. Iniesta’s determination best portrays the belief of Barcelona players. He was chasing a lost ball and his lucid back-heel surprised Kurzawa who put the ball into his own net.
This Barcelona generation is too quickly dismissed by Arigo Sacchi and other experts. All those thoughts how Barcelona’s cycle and period of domination was over could be heard couple of times in the last few years, especially in the time of Tata Martino, when Barcelona started losing their identity.
This Barcelona, guided by Luis Enrique, is different. It is not Guardiola’s mighty team, but they still have the same hunger. They have the resilience to say we will not go quietly and we will achieve something that nobody achieved before.
So they did it!
As the second half started, they almost immediately scored their third. With every next goal Barcelona scored, PSG players fear grown bigger. They suddenly felt like losing their ground. There wasn’t a compatriot on the field they could turn to, someone they could pass the ball to, someone who could make them calm and get them back into the game.
Even when Cavani scored for 3:1 there was no lack of belief at Camp Nou. Fans never stopped cheering for their team, and players never stop pushing towards their common goal – getting through to the next round. PSG had couple of great chances (Cavani and Di Maria) to put the game beyond Barcelona’s reach, but having failed to do it, there was a price to be paid – and it was a heavy price that, most likely, Emery will pay with his job.
When Neymar scored in 88th minute, it was more of a consolation goal, than the beginning of something special. Then, out of the sudden Suarez was brought down in the area and the referee whistled. It was a penalty, a 91st minute penalty. Messi stepped aside showing that he always prioritized collective success over individual glory. It was Neymar’s moment, his time to shine,and he took the most of it.
With the added time of 5 minutes, the feeling of turnaround became stronger than ever before. It was as if everyone were just waiting for it to happen. Even Ter Stegen felt they could snatch that goal and went charging towards PSG penalty area. Neymar picked the ball, dribbled, placed a perfect pass, and of all people it was an unsung hero, a substitute, a Barcelona’s own prodigy, an all-arounder – Sergi Roberto who produced the final meaningful touch of the ball.
The moment of disbelief, followed by euphoric cheering, players and fans tiers of joy, and a sleepless night. The following morning, one of the first tweets was ”it was not a dream”. No, it was a real heroic performance resulted with ”The Miracle of Camp Nou.”