10 Mar PSG eliminating Barca will not erase well-known ‘Remontada’ from historical past, however will enable Parisians to maneuver on
It occurred 4 years in the past, however typically, it nonetheless feels prefer it was yesterday. For Paris Saint-Germain, it’s an unpleasant, painful scar that can all the time be there, no matter what occurs in Wednesday’s Champions League round-of-16 second leg towards Barcelona. They defeated the Blaugrana 4-1 within the first leg, however the tie will not really feel prefer it’s over. On March 8, 2017, the Catalans produced essentially the most memorable comeback within the historical past of football, beating the Parisians 6-1 on the Camp Nou after shedding 4-Zero on the Parc des Princes within the first leg.
4 years on, each teams have modified rather a lot. Each of the managers that night time (Unai Emery for PSG, Luis Enrique for Barcelona) have since moved on to different jobs and many of the two squads has modified too, but there are nonetheless many ties to that fateful night time. Marquinhos, Layvin Kurzawa, Marco Verratti, Julian Draxler, Presnel Kimpembe and Angel Di Maria are nonetheless with PSG, like Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto and Lionel Messi, in fact, are nonetheless at Barca.
Neymar, who will miss the second leg with a thigh drawback as he did within the first leg, has swapped sides. So has Rafinha. Each began for Barca that night time, Neymar serving because the hero along with his hat trick. The Brazil worldwide admitted in July 2019 that the “Remontada” was “one of many two finest moments of [his] profession,” which, as one can think about, did not go down properly with PSG followers.
No matter occurs on Wednesday, it will not change that night time in 2017, however for the Parisians, knocking out La Liga’s giants after destroying them on their soil first, after which ending the job at dwelling, would allow them to show the web page as soon as and for all. The message this 12 months is certainly to not take into consideration 2017.
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“You’re doing our heads in with the ‘Remontada,'” answered PSG defenders Abdou Diallo on Saturday when requested about that match. “It was earlier than. There are new gamers and it’s very totally different now. There isn’t a stress about it at present.”
We will imagine the defender, who joined the membership greater than two years after that epic defeat, however the truth that many of the gamers who had been there nonetheless do not need to speak about that night time illustrates how painful that reminiscence is. Kurzawa, for instance, was there.
“The final recreation I performed in Barcelona was a nightmare,” he mentioned. “There have been a couple of of us there that night time and we swore to by no means undergo this ever once more. That is why we had been so centered within the first leg. I knew we weren’t going to lose. I may really feel how everybody was so dedicated.”
The win on the Camp Nou three weeks in the past was so essential, as a lot mentally — exorcising the demons of 2017 — because it was for reserving their place within the quarterfinals.
Like he did earlier than the primary leg, PSG supervisor Mauricio Pochettino has been very clever in his communication earlier than this second leg. His focus has been to calm his squad down. After his team’s masterclass within the first leg, everybody inside the membership is aware of they’re in a powerful place. They’re assured. He is aware of, in fact, what occurred on the Camp Nou 4 years in the past. He watched that recreation on TV, and was left shocked. PSG’s entire method to the sport was fallacious; there was a way of doubt inside the membership and the nation, even a little bit of worry, and Pochettino has picked up on it in his personal preparations for the sport.
“I’ve solely been right here for 2 months, however I’ve realised that in France, there’s a horrible panic after we method sure video games with regard of accidents and preparation,” he instructed the media final weekend. So his message to his gamers and the followers, through the press, has been very constructive. “We’re not affected by what occurred up to now. We got here right here with a free spirit and with out bias.
“Residing up to now limits your future potentialities. It brings negativity. We include a brand new power and we imagine we’ll qualify. In football, having convictions takes you nearer to the win.”
In that sense, Pochettino’s pre-match discuss has differed quite a bit from the one given by Emery in 2017. He too masterminded an epic first-leg win, however bore plenty of duty within the humiliation of the second leg. The now-Villarreal supervisor nonetheless remembers the “Remontada.”
“We will have a look at plenty of particulars, but when I begin from the tip, I’d change the referee [Deniz Aytekin] and that is all,” Emery mentioned. “We got here again to 3-1, then we missed an opportunity to go 3-2, and there was a transparent penalty on Di Maria not given. There are circumstances you’ll be able to’t management in a recreation. The Barcelona gamers, particularly [Luis] Suarez, saved falling down within the field, placing stress on the referee till he fell of their entice.”
Maxwell and Thiago Motta weren’t on the pitch that night time. Emery held the left-back out of the squad, whereas the defensive midfielder was injured. They witnessed historical past being made out of their place within the stands.
“Our expertise would have been helpful, particularly contemplating the referee, however it was so robust to undergo,” Maxwell mentioned. Like Emery, Motta blames Aytekin. “It’s penalty and purple card for [Javier] Mascherano for his sort out on Di Maria. Then the final two objectives, we do not concede them. It’s my worst reminiscence in Paris.”
Possibly Aytekin will watch Wednesday’s recreation on TV from his dwelling in Bavaria, as refereeing a match of this calibre and significance is a distant reminiscence for him, too. He hasn’t overseen a Champions League knockout recreation since that night time in March 2017. This season, he has solely been answerable for two video games within the German second division.
Since that night time in Barcelona, plenty of issues have occurred. PSG reached a Champions League remaining final season, although Barca are nonetheless ready for his or her first one since 2015. The Catalans have had 5 managers since (Luis Enrique, Ernesto Valverde, Quique Setien and now Ronald Koeman), PSG three (Emery, Thomas Tuchel, Pochettino). Domestically, they each have been very sturdy, as all the time. Kylian Mbappe and Neymar have arrived in Paris, Suarez has left Barcelona and Messi may do the identical in the summertime. Joan Laporta is the brand new president of the Spanish giants and he would love to start out in second stint on the membership with one other “Remontada.” If Koeman & Co. may pull it off, it will be even greater than 2017’s.
All PSG need now could be to qualify and transfer on.