I open by making a bold claim: I witnessed the greatest comeback in football history.
March 8th, 2017 was just like any other Wednesday. Wikileaks was publishing documents about the CIA’s confidential hacking tools, Congress was locked in yet another stalemate on healthcare, across the globe people were marching for International Women’s day, and it was the day of the Champions League round of 16.
“[They] must do what no club has ever done to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League. (ServalFCB, 2017)
It seemed impossible. Then they scored the first goal, quickly followed by the second and third. Could they do what no other team had done before? Football is amazing because it can turn the biggest teams in the world into underdogs. It can turn a team you would otherwise hate (and I do, as a Chelsea fan) into the people’s favorite because football is the story of David and Goliath. Struggling against all odds to succeed, we are only vindicated if David is victorious.
Then Edinson Cavani struck home, and in the Camp Nou, that great fortress, the fans let out one big sigh that was heard around the world. Lady luck would not be blessing the game tonight, it would seem.
Do you know which game I’m talking about yet?
I thought the night was almost wasted. It seemed that I had denied myself sleep for naught, and as I was going to turn the TV off to salvage whatever sleep I could,
Neymar kicks in a free kick in the 88th minute that can only be described as destiny. As Suarez is gifted a penalty in the first of five extra minutes, something seemed to be stirring.
And then it happened.
The game had one of the unlikeliest of heroes in a team of stars. Sergi Roberto, a midfielder deputizing the fullback-sized hole left by Dani Alves. It was the 95’, a free kick was awarded to Barcelona as the last seconds of the game ticked away, and the stadium fell deafeningly silent. The keeper had come up, nobody was back. In poker, you would call this play “all in.” All eyes were on Neymar, and as he kicked the searching ball into the box, hearts of fans of not just PSG and Barcelona, but the sport of football fluttered. The ball bounced off a head and came back to Neymar, and suddenly, all time stopped. It was just Neymar, the little Brazilian thought to be the heir to Ronaldo and Messi’s throne, and the ball. And he whispered to her, “go forth and perform miracles.” The ball floated again into the box, this time slower, and all eyes were fixed on her as she fell to our hero, who, with the graceful flick of his right boot, carved his name into football history.
I screamed, then I stopped. It was 3:30 AM. My phone was exploding with messages, but I put it down. I needed to savor this moment. That moment is what many football fans can go a lifetime without seeing, and I witnessed it live, from my living room in New Delhi, India.
“I can’t remember the last time I saw something like this! (ServalFCB, 2017)”
“Barcelona have completed mission impossible! (ServalFCB, 2017)”
“One of the most phenomenal comebacks that we’ve seen in any football game anywhere! (Lev1sa Sports, 2017)”
Aggregate Score: FC Barcelona 6-5 PSG
“Crazy Reactions To Sergi Roberto Goal [Barcelona 6: 1 PSG Reactions] CHAMPIONS LEAGUE BEST MATCH.” YouTube, Lev1sa Sports, 9 Mar. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjI9LtXoVuM.
“FC Barcelona 6-1 PSG | All Goals and Highlights (English Commentary).” Youtube, ServalFCB, 10 Mar. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7DGigU3V2I.