Following the impressive feats of Barcelona in the Champions League Round of 16, pretty much the same discussion has been going on in every pub across England – was Barca’s comeback even better than Liverpool against AC Milan in 2005?
It is a hard one to call because they are so different in so many ways. Let’s look at the Liverpool game first of all. Liverpool went into the game as second favourites, but the commentating panel labelled the manner in which they rolled over in the first half as an embarrassment.
Their fans had travelled all of the ways to Istanbul, many paying well over the odds for tickets, to experience a first half that was frankly, painful to watch. Some fans could be seen crying at the half time, in disbelief that their dream was over before the second half had even kicked off. AC Milan looked like they had come for a kickabout, barely broken into a sweat and Liverpool looked well out of their depth.
As the fans took in the reality of what had just happened, a group of the crowd began to sing their famous song ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. The players later said that this was a huge lift for them and soon the red team’s fans were in full chorus. They were telling their team that even though this had been a terrible performance, they were all in it together and they would always walk together rather than alone.
The fans were not singing this in hope that it could lead to a miracle comeback, they just wanted to tell their team they still loved them. The players knew that the least they could do was to put in a brave second half performance, show some passion and not embarrass themselves and their fans any further.
What happened next was truly unbelievable as Liverpool somehow managed to claw the game back and go on to win on penalties. Perhaps the most astounding part is that the underdogs managed to score three goals in a crazy 5 minutes to leave AC Milan shell-shocked. The heroic penalty saves from Liverpool goalkeeper were met with scenes of jubilation, and there was no doubt that at the time this was the best comeback.
Fast forward nearly 12 years and Barcelona had the incredibly difficult task of overturning a 4-0 deficit. When they amazingly went 3-0 up, they looked on track to achieve what had looked impossible. However, their opponents PSG managed to score a goal that meant that Barcelona would then need to score a further three goals to go through. They had come so close to that comeback to have it snatched away in heartbreaking fashion. But that didn’t stop them from still trying, even though it seemed in vain.
Then, in unprecedented circumstances, with 5 minutes remaining they managed to score two goals and were pushing for that third goal. As with all true footballing fairytales, that sixth and winning goal went in with seconds remaining on the clock Barcelona were through to the quarter-finals. Not surprisingly, Barcelona are now the Champions League outrights favourites with most bookmakers!
It is hard to pick a clear winner out of the two based on the different circumstances, but you have to agree they were both scintillating games to watch.