Barcelona fan Arimon Monblan Biel recalls Camp Nou shaking as Sergi Roberto put the finishing touch on a comeback he will never forget
Champions League football is all about moments of greatness. Think of the near-miraculous fightbacks in the 1999 and 2005 finals, or the Zinédine Zidane volley in Glasgow – moments which left their mark. For me, 8 March 2017 was one of those unforgettable occasions.
It began as an ordinary early-spring day in Barcelona, with mild weather and a radiant blue sky. And yet the air was packed with an extraordinary nervousness; bars and cafés were full of football talk and the kiosks were running out of the sports newspapers.
My grandfather and I arrived at the Camp Nou around an hour before kick-off. We hadn’t said a word on the way, conscious that Barcelona had been heavily beaten 4-0 by Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of this round of 16 tie. Our attitude changed as we reached our seats: chants were being sung, the excitement was evident and, most importantly, there was a sense of conviction that the team could yet make it through.
The match started on a good note for Barcelona with Luis Suárez connecting with a header just three minutes in after a bizarre, rebound-filled passage of play. When Layvin Kurzawa scored an own goal just before half-time, the whole stadium screamed, “Yes, we can!”
Five minutes after half-time Lionel Messi scored a penalty; it felt like another goal would follow imminently. Indeed, it did – except it was PSG striker Edinson Cavani who scored it. We now needed three more goals. Spirits plummeted. Even when Neymar scored an astonishing free-kick, almost no one celebrated. That all changed a minute into added time. Suárez won a penalty, Neymar converted it, and the deafening roar said we were only a goal away.
Then, the impossible happened. Sergi Roberto poked the ball into the back of the net for 6-1. An adrenaline rush escalated through my body and tears began to stream down my face. I embraced my grandfather like I had never done before. I could feel the stadium shake. Eventually, as I became aware of my surroundings once more, I realised that it wasn’t only me – my grandfather and everyone around us were damp-eyed too with emotion. For this reason, I will always recall it as the day we all cried.