What an extraordinary game! Football, bloody hell! The greatest comeback in Champions League history!
It’s been the season for comebacks, that’s for sure.
The Cleveland Cavaliers came back from 1-3 down to down the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals, the Chicago Cubs overcame a 1-3 deficit to win the “World” series and the New England Patriots rallied from 3-28 down to win the Super Bowl. That’s all well and good, but those are American sports and that doesn’t really happen in football.
However, Barcelona re-wrote the script when they overturned a 0-4 first leg thrashing courtesy of Paris Saint Germain, to win the return leg 6-1 and finish the tie 6-5 winners. Most people have a couple of theories of how Barcelona managed this incredible feat:
- Neymar played, in his own words, “the best game of his life”
- Suarez cheated to win a penalty
- The referee was awful
- PSG ‘bottled it’
- Sergi Roberto, who Luis Enrique joked couldn’t score in a goal the size of a rainbow, scored the winning goal
Surprisingly, one other factor that hasn’t been mentioned much is an obvious one – match fixing.
If this had been a cricket match, guys would have been all over this like white on rice checking irregular betting patterns and trying to find the Indian/Pakistani fixer (it’s always someone from the sub continent in cricket) behind this one. Sure, the fixing may not have been as blatant poor and ridiculous as when South Africa beat Colombia and Guatemala in World Cup warm up friendlies, but this game reeks of a setup.
Let’s consider a couple of points:
- Barcelona (other than Neymar) actually played pretty horribly. Messi and Suarez were largely non-existent for the majority of the game. This was not vintage attacking tiki-taka Barcelona like the team that ruthlessly dispatched Real Madrid 5-0 back in 2010 – rather this was a hard-fought and ugly victory.
- Cavani and Di Maria spurned good one-on-one chances to kill off the tie completely at 1-3. Some might say the pressure got to them, but it’s more likely the fixers got to them.
- PSG completed FOUR passes between the 85th and 95th minute! This stat alone tells you all you need to know, as I’m sure even perennial big game bottlers Arsenal wouldn’t have collapsed like this.
- Barcelona were humbled 1-2 by Deportivo la Coruna in a league game a couple of days later.
Someone once said “Three things cannot be long hidden – the sun, the moon and the truth”. The facts shall emerge in due course, so just remember where you heard it first.