Last Wednesday, FC Barcelona beat PSG in the second leg at home in the Camp Nou to advance in the Champions League. Barca features three of the soccer’s best attacking players – Messi, Neymar, and Suarez – and, before the first game, they were expected to advance past the Parisians. Then, Barca went and lost the first leg by four goals. That was bad. Very bad.
Yet they won the second 6-1 and the Camp Nou erupted. Still, some questions have to be asked.
First, is not Unai Emery the coach of PSG? Please note that PSG has lost more games this season than last year already in Ligue Un, are second place, and have scored a lot less goals. Zlatan went to United. Lavezzi went to China over a year ago. Most importantly, Emery coaching a team at the Camp Nou is basically gifting you three goals. Then you have to get a bit lucky with the other two.
Barca was on track with an early goal and had scored three goals by minute 60, but then Edinson Cavani nicked one. Still, the Cules never gave up, but…guess how many penalties Barca got in the last five minutes of the game? Guess how many goals they needed to score to advance past PSG? Two. Two.
I don’t want to go crazy conspiracy theories on you because the game involves humans, humans make mistakes, and games of this nature and decisions/calls of this nature sometimes just happen. Good teams, and players, get the benefit of the ref’s whistle. That’s life. And I’m actually pretty sure if you had polled Cules beforehand, a good chunk of them would have said “late sub Sergi Roberto for the tie-winner in the 95th.” Or perhaps not.
Still, despite PSG taking a large portion of credit for the choke, there were some bright spots for Barca. Aside from the forwards being exceptional – as expected – Arda Turan and () played well in midfield ahead of Busquets. The era of Iniesta and Xavi was glorious and may never be rivalled again, but it’s nice to know these two younger players can perform a good job when needed.
Lastly, I don’t want to distract from Barca’s two accomplishments – they dug themselves out of a really big hole and were not prematurely knocked out of the Champions League. They can cruise into the quarterfinals knowing that they shipped a lot of goals to PSG, but, like, they also scored a lot of goals. That means something.
And in the big picture, they are very much alive in three competitions. Still, some fan message boards where people are begging the club to offer/entice/beg at Luis Enrique a three year extension with a club record manager salary seem odd.
Nevertheless, don’t let the tyrants of the present or stats nerds fool you. Deportivo La Coruna’s victory over AC Milan in the 2004 UCL was better. Summary: a much smaller club from Spain scored four unanswered goals to knock out title-holders Milan.