So, the biggest story in the football world this week is Arsenal lost 5-1 again to Bayern Munich… of course not, the bigger story is the epic comeback that Barcelona made in the 2nd leg at Camp Nou against PSG. A team trailing 4-0 in the first leg of round of 16 is all but knocked out from the Champions League. Well it was the case before Barcelona defeated PSG (6-1) this week. People who tuned in to watch the giants collide hardly knew that they were about to witness a miracle, the realization of which came in the injury time when Sergi Roberto fired in a volley. The spectacle witnessed was football at its best which also solidified Champions League status as grand-daddy of tournaments for the European elites.
This comeback made by Barca has been etched in Champions League history as one of the best comebacks if not the best. Here are a few more comebacks in Champions League that are engraved on the same wall:
Monaco makes a statement (2003-04 quarter finals)
Real Madrid 4-2 Monaco
Monaco 3-1 Real Madrid
With a deficit of 2 goals against arguably one of the best sides of all times, Monaco had a Herculean task at hand. The visitors opening goal added further misery to the French club. It was around half time when the home side decided to rewrite their own fate and put three past the Spanish side. Monaco – Real Madrid ended 5-5 on aggregate and Monaco was given ticket to next round on account of away goal advantage. They finished their campaign as the runner’s up which was coincidentally also their best ever Champions League finish.
Deportivo stuns the giant (2003-04 quarter finals)
AC Milan 4-1 Deportivo La Coruña
Deportivo La Coruña 4-0 AC Milan
The second fairytale comeback of the 2003-04 quarter finals took place between Deportivo La Coruna and AC Milan. Facing the defending champions with a three-goal deficit, Deportivo had to pull off a miracle and they did just that. Holding back a team consisting of Pirlo, Kaka, Inzaghi, Shevchenko from scoring while putting four past the defence of Cafu, Maldini and Nesta was next to impossible which made the comeback even sweeter. Unfortunately, for Deportivo, their Champions League journey was brought to a halt in the very next game by eventual winners FC Porto.
The dream begins for Chelsea (2011-12 Round of 16)
Napoli 3-1 Chelsea
Chelsea 4-1 Napoli
If I say Chelsea were in tatters before the 2nd leg of their match against Napoli, it would be an understatement. Their high profile manager (Andre Villas Boas) had failed spectacularly both in Premier League as well as brought them on the cusp of early Champions League exit. As a result he was replaced by caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo and most of the fans had given up hope on Chelsea’s season. However, Stamford Bridge saw a comeback that was a treat to football fans of the world. The fact that it took an Ivanovic header in the extra time to secure their progression showed how the belief in the dressing room had started to return. This game was the turning point in Chelsea’s history as they went on to beat favourites Barcelona and Bayern Munich to ultimately clinch the title.
The Miracle of Istanbul (2005 Champions League Final)
Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan (3-2 penalties)
The moment you read the title, you knew, this was going to be here, didn’t you?
Miracle of Istanbul has been dubbed as comeback at its peak. When chasing a 3-goal difference with 45 minutes in hand against an opponent of the calibre of AC Milan of 2005, you may as well as hang up your boots and call it a day. But, the Merseyside reds had other plans. They managed to put in 3 past AC Milan and frustrate them enough till the penalty shoot-outs. Luck coupled with heorics of their goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, allowed Liverpool to lift the Champions League Trophy breaking a million AC Milan hearts.