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UEFA Champions League 2016-17: Champions League Is Back In The Groove: The Miracle at Nou Camp


UEFA Champions League logoEurope’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 match 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 Nou Camp ready for PSG in Champions Leagueinto the 2nd leg of their Round of 16 tie against PSG last week. It was going to need a 5-0 win for the Catalan giants to advance to the quarterfinals, 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 advancing to the quarterfinals.

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-goal rule.

But there was time for one last roll of the dice, one last Barcelona's saviour Sergi Robertotwist in the tale and what a twist it turned out to be. Neymar’s 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.

It was an astonishing night, which bought jubilation to Barcelona and absolute despair to PSG. In one moment it summed up just how beautiful and how cruel this game really can be at times and that is why I love the Champions League.
 
Read Dan Tracey's previous article on Champions League

Check Dan Tracey's blog

 



2017-03-14


Physical attributes

acceleration
agility
balance
jumping
pace
reactions
stamina
strength
reflexes

Technical attributes

ball control
corners
crossing
dribbling
finishing
free kicks
heading
long throws
marking
penalties
shooting accuracy
shooting power
slide tackle
stand tackle
technique
volleys
aerial control
diving
handling
kicking
one on ones
off the area
penalty saving

Mental attributes

adaptability
anticipation
aggression
composure
concentration
consistency
creativity
decisions
determination
leadership
positioning
vision
tactical awareness
teamwork
work rate
communication
eccentricity
positioning in the line
punching
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