by Kolawole Bababtunde (@iamkoolkola)
For every Manchester City fan and well wishers throughout the world, it would be all about expecting a miraculous comeback today in the UEFA Champions League. Having gone 3-0 down within the first 45 minutes at Anfield, the Cityzens have found themselves with an herculean task all of a sudden.
The first leg will be a game every City and Pep fan will want to erase from memory quickly, and this isn’t mainly about the score-line alone but more about the unwanted fact that for all of City’s attacking prowess, they couldn’t muster a single shot on target throughout the tie.
0 – Manchester City failed to direct a single shot on target in a game for the first time since 26th October 2016 (v Man Utd in the League Cup). Blunt.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 4, 2018
Apparently, so much money and brain doesn’t always translate to result.
Although the task ahead is tough and mighty, there is a pool of inspiration to draw from. Yes, they have their work cut out for the, the City players and management staff will be looking back in time and considering some of these greatest comebacks in Champions League history.
- Barcelona vs. Paris Saint-Germain, 2017 Champions League Round of 16
We’d start with a recent memory, one every Barcelona fan cherishes, one whose tale will be told to the next generation.
Before this game, no team had ever come back from a four-goal deficit in the history of the Champions League. Barcelona had to do that without an away goal. But amazingly, turning around their 4-0 first-leg deficit wasn’t their most shocking accomplishment in this tie.
Three goals brought Barca within one after just 50 minutes, after such a spirited display by Neymar from the blast of the whistle. But Edinson Cavani’s 62nd-minute away goal didn’t just stretch the PSG lead to two – it made things more difficult for Barca.
The Catalan giants now needed three goals to advance. With 88 minutes of the second leg played, Barcelona were still three goals away from qualification.
The storyline changed when Neymar scored a beautiful free kick. He then went on to make a penalty. With the tie 5-5 on aggregate, PSG were well on their way to qualify thanks to the away goals rule. But Sergi Roberto had other plans. His goal, which sent Barcelona through, will rank highly among the most important goals scored in the history of the club.
From 4-0 down. With three goals in seven minutes. Barcelona pulled off the most amazing comeback in Champions League history.
- Chelsea vs. Napoli, 2012 Champions League Round of 16
Chelsea looked all shades of a broken team. They weren’t going to finish in the Premier League’s top four and had already fired Andre Villas-Boas. Losing 3-1 at Napoli in the first leg looked like the start of a Champions League elimination that would have fit in a season to forget, but Didier Drogba and John Terry got the tie level at 3-3 back at Stamford Bridge.
A goal by Gokhan Inler not only gave Napoli the lead again at, 4-3, but it brought them even on away goals. Chelsea were back in a hole, but Frank Lampard’s penalty at least earned Chelsea extra time. There, Branislav Ivanovic found the back of the net and the Blues were quarterfinal-bound.
The season proved to be the most memorable in the history of Chelsea. As bad as they were in England, Roberto di Matteo led Chelsea past Benfica, Chelsea and Bayern Munich (in Munich) to become one of the most improbable Champions League winners ever. And it started with that comeback against Napoli.
- Deportivo La Coruna vs. AC Milan, 2004 Champions League Quarterfinals
AC Milan were the reigning champions and thrashed Deportivo, 4-1, in the first leg at the San Siro. It was a demolition and Milan could have easily won by more.
It looked like Milan would coast into the semifinals in search of another Champions League title, but Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valeron and Albert Luque all scored before halftime in the second leg and Milan’s lead had vanished.
Deportivo were already set to go through on away goals, but Gonzalez Fran came off the bench and scored with 14 minutes left to make it 5-4 and put Deportivo past the defending champions. They’d later bow out to eventual champions ,Porto ,a team that was lead by Jose Mourinho.
- Monaco vs. Real Madrid, 2004 Champions League Quarterfinals
Real Madrid had been Champions in 2002 and were seriously searching for record 10th ucl trophy to complete the La decima. Real Madrid had the highest number of collection of grade A stars , so when the Galacticos won 4-2 in the first leg, Monaco looked done for.
Then Raul scored first in Monaco to make it 5-2 on aggregate, it really looked like the tie was ever, but Ludovic Guily’s goal just before halftime gave Monaco hope. Then Fernando Morientes started the second half with a goal.
All of a sudden, Real Madrid were on the ropes and in danger of blowing a spot in the final four. Giuly made sure they did just that, finding the net for the second time on the night and sending Monaco past mighty Real Madrid on away goals.
- Barcelona vs. Chelsea, 2000 Champions League Quarterfinals
Chelsea were still in the Pre-Abrahimovic era and were not yet a powerhouse in 2000 and their 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge in the first leg shocked most people , but Barcelona were still favored to come back at the Camp Nou.
A pair of first-half goals brought Barcelona level, 3-3, but then Tore Andre Flo scored and Chelsea were back in front. Dani Garcia came to the Catalans’ rescue with an equalizer, but that only forced extra time. Barcelona still had work to do, but they did it. Rivaldo and Patrick Kluivert’s goals pushed Barcelona to a 6-4 aggregate victory.
A night Barcelona’s Gabri Garcia described as, “the greatest night of my life”
Apparently, there’s more than enough proof that in football, anything can happen and Manchester City can pull off the impossible. It’s a perfect opportunity to register their names in soccer lore.
But then again, Liverpool knows what it feels like to do a comeback and would be doing all they can to not make that happen. As it stands, all is set for what is going to be a perfect football night and we’re poised to see a game played at a frantic pace. We the neutrals live for this and will be hoping we get enough drama to last us for ages.
Do you see Manchester City making a comeback? Does this Pep team have what it takes to make it through to the semi-finals? Leave me your comments and let me know your thoughts.