The Champions League group stage kicks off this week with the first matches being played on Tuesday the 14th of September and Wednesday the 15th. Title holders Chelsea are among the 32 teams looking to make it all the way to the final. Time for us to take a look at some of the highlights in the history of the tournament, starting with some of the miracle comebacks!
Liverpool, Barcelona, Monaco and Deportivo La Coruña have all pulled off the seemingly impossible in the Champions League and came back to win. Here is a look at the top 5 comebacks in the CL and if you think that we have forgotten a memorable game, then tell us in the comments.
Highlight 1: Champions League 2018/19
Semi-finals: FC Barcelona FC Liverpool
May 07, 2019: After the first leg of the Champions League semi-final, FC Liverpool were 3-0 down against Barcelona but they managed to turn it around winning the second leg in front of their home crowd with 4-0 to move on to the final! The rest is history.
In the first leg of the 2018/19 CL semi-finals, Liverpool suffered a heavy 3-0 defeat against Barcelona despite playing a good game. Luis Suárez (26th minute) and Lionel Messi (75th/82nd) scored for the Spaniards and so the already established Spanish champions were with one foot in the final. But it’s not over till the final whistles blows.
On May the 7th Jürgen Klopp’s team made a sensational comeback at Anfield Road with injured Mo Salah who was sitting in the stands wearing a “Never give up” T-Shirt. Origi opened the score for the Reds in minute 7 and Barca could not find a way past an outstanding Alisson Becker. The Spaniards were not granted the important away goal and Liverpool made up for the 0:3 defeat with a 4:0 victory.
The legendary second leg between Barca and Liverpool in the 2018/19 Champions League is one of the craziest comebacks the tournament has ever seen. In this year’s edition of the Champions League, Liverpool will face Milan, Porto and Atletico.
Highlight 2: Champions League 2016/17
Round of Sixteen: Paris SG vs. FC Barcelona
March 8, 2017: Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona met in the knockout stages of the Champions League 16/17. FC Barcelona won the second leg against Paris SG with 6-1, becoming the first team in the UEFA Champions League to move on to the next round after a four-goal deficit from the first leg.
The round of sixteen match between PSG and FCB saw two terrific home victories, but Barca was a tick better. In the first leg, Paris left the Spanish team around Lionel Messi and Neymar no chance. Di Maria scored twice, Draxler and Cavani both once, and so Paris SG defeated the guests with a shocking 4-0. Barcelona went into the second leg with their back to the wall.
A week later, on 8 March 2017, Paris was behind only minutes after kick off. Luis Suarez opened the scoring festival in Camp Nou with a perfect header, an own goal and a Messi penalty later and the Spaniards were 3-0 ahead at the break.
In the 62nd minute Edison Cavani scored the important away goal, but it wasn’t enough to secure a win. The last minutes of the game belonged to Neymar who scored two goals. With the incredible 1:6 defeat, the French Champions League dream was over and crazy but true: Barcelona managed to make up a 4-goal deficit!
Highlight 3: The Miracle of Istanbul
Champions League 2004/05 Final AC Milan vs. Liverpool
May 25, 2005: At the Champions League Final at the Ataturk Stadium Liverpool was 3-0 down at the break. But the “Reds” turned the game within “six minutes of madness”, as Carlo Ancelotti once called the legendary catch-up chase.
The already established Italian champions AC Milan were considered clear favourites ahead of the Champions League final against Liverpool. The incredible Italian boasting names such as Dida, Cafú, Nesta, Seedorf, Gattuso, Kaká and Shevchenko took the lead after just one minute through the goal of captain Paolo Maldini. Shortly before the break, Italian-Argentine striker Hernan Crespo added a double to make it 3-0.
But then Liverpool pulled out all stops and the miracle took its course.
In the 6 minutes following the substitution of Didi Hamann first Steven Gerrard scored (54th), then Vladimir Smicer (56th) and Xabi Alonso converted his penalty in the aftermath.
The 40,000 Liverpool fans sang the legendary Club anthem “You will never walk alone” continuously and it was a brilliant Jerzy Dudek who saved his team into the penalty shootout, not known to be a special discipline of the English. But thanks to a terrific Liverpool keeper, the Reds prevailed on that magical night in Istanbul after sensationally coming from three goals down at half-time.
Highlight 4: Champions League 2003/04
Quarterfinals Monaco vs. Real Madrid
April 06, 2004: In the first leg, Monaco conceded a 4-2 defeat to Real Madrid. The Queiroz team appeared a bit too sure of themselves after an early lead in the second leg and so the passionately fighting Monegasques prevailed in the end with 3:1.
It should have been the final. Monaco and Real Madrid met in the 2003/04 quarter-final, which ended with a 5-5 on aggregate and saw Monaco move on to the next round on account of the away goals. With Monaco losing the away game in Madrid 2-4 things looked grim for the French.
In the second leg, the Madrilenians had to do without the suspended David Beckham who was replaced by the 23-year-old Borja. Real still took an early lead but then the passionately fighting French started scoring and prevailed in the end.
Highlight 5: Champions League 2003/2004
Quarterfinals Deportivo La Coruña – AC Milan
April 07, 2004: In the first leg Deportivo lost to AC Milan 4-1. In the second leg, the Italians had no chance against an unleashed La Coruña. In the end, AC Milan were eliminated from the first leg despite the comfortable 4:1.
After the 4:1 at San Siro, AC Milan seemed to have already booked their semi-final ticket. Although the Italians had already lost to Deportivo in the Champions League season once at this point, no one believed that the team managed by Javier Irureta could make up the deficit.
In the second leg however, the Spaniards were unstoppable and shot the Italian champions out of the Champions League with a 4-0 victory.