Europe’s top club competition has been accused of being a bit stale in the pre-Christmas group stages as the same matches seem to take place on a near annual basis, add the fact that in the UK the Champions League has gone behind a paywall and it’s fair to say that perhaps interest in the competition has dwindled slightly.
But thankfully the events of the past few weeks have gone a large way to reigniting the love for what is the pinnacle of club football. Many said a fortnight or so ago that Manchester City 5 -3 Monaco was the best Champions League ever, well even after that sensational scoreline they have somehow been usurped.
Who can lay claim to that mantle, step forward Barcelona. They themselves were in a goalfest in Paris last month but the outcome was very different as Luis Enrique’s side were dealt a 4-0 defeat in the French Capital.
A result that left them a near insurmountable task going into the 2nd leg of their Round of 16 tie against PSG earlier in the week. It was going to need a 5-0 win for the Catalan giants to advance to the Semi Finals, only they ended up having to do more and in astonishing fashion
As they raced into a 2-0 lead before the break, Unai Emery’s men would have undoubtedly felt the pressure being applied to them from all corners and that pressure would have increased by the time Lionel Messi made it 3-0 from the spot straight after the break.
It was then a case of could PSG hold out for another 40 minutes but not only did they hold out they played their get out of jail free card. Edinson Cavani’s volley just after the hour silenced the Nou Camp, a vital away goal that surely meant they and not Barcelona were not advancing to the Quarter Finals.
The Nou Camp was a much quieter place with Barcelona now needing three goals to progress and on any other day and with any other team you would have said it was game over, but this night was slightly different.
Neymar’s rocket of a free kick with two minutes to go gave Barcelona a fresh impetus and when the same made it 5-1 on the night you felt that perhaps they would be edged out in the cruellest of circumstances by missing out on the away goals rule.
But there was time for one last roll of the dice, one last twist in the tale and what a twist it turned out to be. Neymar’s man of the man of the match performance saw him play a part in the dramatic scene that was to unfold.
His hopeful ball was lofted into the box and Barcelona needed a hero, any hero. That man turned out to be Sergi Roberto. He stabbed a foot out and connected enough to steer the ball past Kevin Trapp and unleash incredible scenes both in the stadium and around the world.
Moments like that remind you why you love the game so much, why you watch the tepid 0-0’s on a not so Super Sunday, why you still back your team when they have not won their last 6 away from home. You do it because you love this sport and if you watched the drama unfold last night you would have seen how beautiful game can sometimes be.
The kind of drama that they will talk about for years, Sergi Roberto may not be remembered in the pantheon of greats at Barcelona but you can be sure he will never have to pay for another Tapas dish as long as he lives.
I’ve watched that goal go in nearly 20 times and every time it sends a shiver down my spine and a tingle in my stomach and unless you are made of stone or support PSG then you would have no doubt felt the same.
It reminds you why we all love this game, it reminds me why I spend so much time writing about it. The endless hours spent researching and crafting content which I then take pride in then sharing with others, which I hope you enjoy also.
I do it because I love everything Football has to offer and I absolutely loved watching the scenes during Wednesday night at The Nou Camp. The Champions League may be maligned but Barcelona thanks for making believe once again.