By Rohan Bachhav
The Champions league’s campaign for Barcelona ended in the most bizarre way possible. An away 3-0 defeat at the ‘Stadio Olimpico’ on Tuesday night.
When everyone except Barcelona and Roma fans was watching the clash of EPL giants Liverpool and Manchester City, everyone expected City to make a comeback.
Instead, Roma shook the footballing world by overcoming a 3 goal deficit against Barcelona. They reached the semi-finals stage after three decades, the last time being in 1984 finals where they lost to Liverpool on penalties.
Italy vs Europe:
Italian clubs are not considered a formidable side when it comes to European football. The last Italian team to win UCL was Inter Milan in 2010 eight years ago and Europa was Parma in 1999.
On the other hand, the Spanish are giants of European football as they have won almost every year for the last five years in both the European competitions. (5/5 in UCL and 3/5 in Europa).
Roma drawing Barcelona was dubbed an easy game for Barcelona. Their last UCL meet was in 2015-16 season and the Barca had thrashed Roma 6-1.
The teams were to play their first leg at 4th April and Barcelona had an easy 4-1 win. Everyone was sure that fixture was done and dusted.
The second leg started and it was Roma who drew first blood with a 6th-minute goal by Dzeko and there was a spark of hope. After the goal, Roma dominated the attacks in first half. The second half started with a score line of 1-0.
As always Barcelona dominated the first 10 minutes of the second half but there was no sign of a goal coming from the Catalan side. In 57th minute Edin Dzeko won a penalty. Captain Daniele De Rossi stepped up to take the penalty and converted from the spot.
The comeback now looked more realistic than ever. Roma looked like they had infinite reserves of energy as they were attacking every minute of the game with more than a couple of chances almost going through and in 82nd minute one finally went in with the header of Kostas Manolas from a corner kick.
The next 8 minutes were the real test for Roma as Barcelona never once stopped attacking after bringing Ousmane Dembele and Antolín Alcazar on the field and Gerard Pique playing almost as a centre-forward. Roma prevailed the test with an unshakable defence with the help of Kostas Manolas who had a lion’s share in the win.
The Campaign so far:
No one expected Roma to be the Italian side to reach this far and defeat Barcelona. Even though Roma has come into more limelight now, their campaign for this entire UCL was exceptional right from the group stages.
Even after losing 2-0 to Atletico Madrid, their 3-0 win against Chelsea was the reason Atletico ended up in Europa and saw them at the top of their group C.
Before the Round of 16, some key Roma players were targeted by other clubs, one of them being Dzeko who was approached by Chelsea. The deal was almost done but Dzeko changed his mind at the last minute and decided to stay.
Chelsea got knocked out and his loyalty was rewarded as Roma went through and Chelsea’s campaign ended at the hands of Barcelona. The first leg of Round of 16 ended up a 2-1 home defeat against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Even though it was not hard to predict that Roma would turn the deficit, but it was not that as easy as they barely got away with a 1-0 win and advancing on away goal advantage.
History is Created:
Roma is the only second side to overcome a 3 goal deficit in the history of UCL and that too against the club who set a record after overcoming a four-goal deficit. Even though Dzeko, Manolas, Kolarov and Becker were the key player in this victory, the result would not have been the same if even one of the players had played differently.
In a league which does not have as many sponsors, football academies, coverage and various other things, Roma set the perfect example of David beats Goliath.
With finals in their sight and one more step to climb, Roma just might meet Liverpool again in the finals and avenge the 1984 defeat.
Image Credits: Google Images