If Barcelona end up winning the Champions League in 2017, their 6-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain on March 8 will go down as one of the most incredible moments in the history of European club football. An absurd, inexplicable sequence of events and goals, leading to the impossible comeback from a 0-4 loss in the first leg.
The ending of this match is a good place to begin. Almost five minutes into stoppage time, a Neymar chip into the box, an act of desperation, finds Sergi Roberto with his reached out leg, beating the helpless Kevin Trapp, who was having a bad night, although no one would have remembered it had Barcelona won “just” 5-1.
Let’s put things in order. After losing by four goals without scoring once in the first leg, Barcelona needed a four goal win or more, depending on whether PSG scored or not. With a 3rd minute goal by Luis Suarez, everything and anything became possible. Despite heavy pressure, it wasn’t until a 40th minute own goal that Barcelona scored their second, making sure we were going to have a very interesting second half.
And it certainly was. In the 49th minute Neymar made the most of Thomas Meunier slipping in the penalty box to draw a penalty kick, which Lionel Messi converted. One more goal and Barcelona were level on aggregate. But their defense was bound to make a mistake, and it came in the 62nd minute, allowing Edinson Cavani to score, making it 3-1 for Barcelona, now needing a 6-1 win to qualify. Impossible, right?
Well, up until the 88th minute, it was still impossible. Luis Enrique looked dejected on the bench, maybe thinking about his next job. But a sublime free kick by Neymar changed the atmosphere of acceptance in the Nou Camp into an environment of belief. Suddenly, anything was possible again.
Referee Deniz Aytekin of Germany had to deal with Barcelona players diving in the box at almost every opportunity, booking both Suarez and Neymar for these infringements. However, the slightest of touches on Suarez in the 90th minute inside the penalty area convinced him to give Barcelona a penalty, something that will be discussed quite a lot in the next few days. Legit or not, it gave Neymar a chance to make it 5-1, and so he did.
You know the rest. Ter Stegen joined the Barcelona attacks, and the shellshocked PSG players couldn’t hold on to what looked like a lock for the quarterfinals. A historic night, but possibly only a fun anecdote if Barcelona don’t end up winning it all in a couple of months.