Luis Enrique’s FC Barcelona mounted the most impressive and craziest comebacks of all times in the history of UEFA Champions League, defeating Paris Saint-Germain after coming from four-nil down to win the Round of 16 of the 2016/2017 UEFA Champions League with six-five on aggregate at Camp Nou.
FC Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique decided to make a few alterations to his starting eleven since the second leg in Paris. He decided to bench Sergi Roberto, Andre Gomes and Jordi Alba. They were replaced by Rakitic, Rafinha and Mascherano. The rest in the starting eleven remained unchanged from the previous meeting.
Barcelona | S-XI: Ter Stegen (GL), Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Iniesta (C), Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Rafinha, Mascherano, Umtiti. Substitutes: Cillessen (GK), Arda, Paco Alcácer, J.Alba, Digne, Sergi Roberto, Andre Gomes.
Unai Emery’s Paris Saint-Germain had a huge advantage and where in a very favourable position to advance into the quarter-finals of 2016/2017 UEFA Champions League. Unai Emery made few changes to his starting eleven compared to the one in the first leg. Thiago Silva and Lucas returned to the starting eleven, benching Angel Di Maria, who scored twice in the first leg, and Kimpembe. Krychowiak and Ben Arfa were back on the bench as well.
Paris Saint-Germain | S-XI: Trapp (GK), Meunier, Marquinhos, Silva (C), Kurzawa, Rabiot, Verratti, Matuidi, Lucas, Cavani, Draxler. Substitutes: Areola (GK), Kimpembe, Krychowiak, Pastore, Di Maria, Aurier, Ben Arfa.
FC Barcelona started the match and showed Unai Emery’s Paris Saint-Germain who the boss at Camp Nou is. They start with a very high tempo, putting an immense pressure on Paris Saint-Germain’s goal. This initial high pressure paid off for FC Barcelona as Luis Suarez scored with a header in the third minute. The ball went just over the line, the additional assistant referee gave the goal. Paris Saint-Germain perhaps had just one effort on FC Barcelona’s goal, which did not test Marc-André Ter Stegen thoroughly. Just five minutes left of the first half, captain Andres Iniesta made a fantastic inidiviual performance that result Layvin Kurzawa scoring an own-goal. The first half ended FC Barcelona 2, Paris Saint-Germain 0. On aggregate, it meant 2 – 4 and FC Barcelona needed two more goals at that stage to advance into the quarter-finals.
FC Barcelona opened the second half with the same intensity as in the first half. They put a high pressure on Paris Saint-Germain’s defence and goalkeeper. Paris Saint-Germain’s right-back Thomas Meunier brought down Brazil international Neymar Jr inside his own penalty-box and the referee blew the whistle, giving FC Barcelona a penalty in the 48th minute. Argentine star Lionel Messi stepped up and scored from the penalty spot, making it three-nil to FC Barcelona in the 50th minute. Paris Saint-Germain tried to be creative and managed to some extent as Edison Cavani hit the post in the 52nd minute. Former Real Madrid star Angel Di Maria was replaced Lucas Moura in the 55th minute. Paris Saint-Germain became more defensively disciplined and more effective in their counterattacks. Layvin Kurzawa found Edison Cavani inside the FC Barcelona penalty-box, who smashed the ball in the back of the net in the 62nd minute, silencing the FC Barcelona fans. Neymar Jr were amazing in this match, his well-taken free-kick found the back of the net in the 88th minute giving hope to the FC Barcelona fans. Two minutes later Marquinhos brought Luis Suarez inside the Paris Saint-Germain penalty-box. Neymar Jr stepped up and scored in the first additional minute. In the last minute of the additional time, a fantastic cross by Neymar Jr found Sergi Roberto inside the Paris Saint-Germain penalty-box and sent FC Barcelona into the quarter-finals of the 2016/2017 UEFA Champions League.
It was a highly entertaining match as FC Barcelona crushed and demolished Paris Saint-Germain. It was the most impressive comeback in the history of UEFA Champions League. FC Barcelona became the first football club to mount such an impressive comeback in a two-leg match in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League history.
FC Barcelona were defensively disciplined and highly effective in their attacks with high precision in their finishing handed them a sweet victory over the French champions Paris Saint-Germain. Paris Saint-Germain were defensively solid. Nevertheless, they seemed to have no attack at all but FC Barcelona managed to take their defence apart.
FC Barcelona’s next opponent in the quarter-finals of the 2016/2017 UEFA Champions League will be decided through a draw, which will be held on March 17, 2017. The first legs will be played on April 11 and 12, and the second legs will be played on April
18 and 19, 2017.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen – 4/5, Piqué – 4/5, Rakitic – 3.5/5, Sergio – 4/5, Iniesta – 4.5/5, Suárez – 4/5, Messi – 4/5, Neymar Jr – 5/5, Rafinha – 4/5, Mascherano – 4/5, Umtiti – 4.5/5. | Substitutes: Arda – 3.5/5, Sergi Roberto – 4.5/5, Andre Gomes – 3.5/5.
Paris Saint-Germain: Trapp – 3/5, Meunier – 3/5, Marquinhos – 3/5, Silva – 3/5, Kurzawa – 2.5/5, Rabiot – 2/5, Verratti – 2/5, Matuidi – 3/5, Lucas – 2/5, Cavani – 3/5, Draxler – 2.5/5. | Substitutes: Di Maria – 3/5, Aurier – 1/5, Krychowiak – 3/5.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Neymar Jr (Barcelona)