Published on April 13th, 2018 | by Vieri Capretta0
Europe’s winners and losers – from a rampant Roma to battle-scarred Barcelona
One of the most dramatic weeks in the history of the Champions League saw Roman Centurions battle back Barca and Real Madrid get lucky against Juventus
The most epic comeback ever in the Champions League. The stuff of dreams for the Giallorossi, who completely outplayed Barcelona in a tactical masterclass to deservedly book a spot in the semifinals. Eusebio Di Francesco was the mind, all the players on the pitch were the executers. A perfect night for Italian football, a perfect night for all those Roma fans who rarely can say to have these kind of emotions. Epic.
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) April 13, 2018
The beauty of football, showing itself yet again. Juventus deserved more, but Real Madrid are through to the semifinals. A moment can change everything, and for a fan winning like this can be even sweater. That Cristiano Ronaldo celebration said it all: he had only scored a penalty, no bicycle kick, but it was absolutely vital. History is in the making: who can stop Real Madrid from winning it again?
— Real Madrid C.F.🇺🇸🇬🇧 (@realmadriden) April 12, 2018
Incredible, but it’s all real. If everyone expected the main Red Bull team to make it all the way to the Europa League semifinals, everyone was wrong. It’s Salzburg, and not Leipzig, that will face Marseille in yet another two great European nights. And deservedly so: after conceding the first goal in the return leg to Lazio (having lost 4-2 in Rome), they scored three in four minutes to blow the opponent away. Simply phenomenal.
The illusion of a Manchester City comeback lasted two minutes: after Gabriel Jesus’ opener, the momentum would push in the Citizens’ direction, but the game went otherwise. The morale boost evaporated quickly, and after a post-hit and a disallowed goal, Guardiola lost his mind and ended up being sent to the stands. The referee had made the wrong decision, fair, but that kind of reaction is never the answer. Liverpool were better for all the first tie and the second half of the second tie: more than enough to deserve the qualification.
Having to exit the competition after such a performance would frustrate anyone, this must be said. So in analysing what Buffon said after the game, we must try to understand his mental state in the heat of the moment. But to brand the referee’s heart a “garbage bin” appealing to his common sense in not giving a last minute penalty, purely because Juventus did not deserve one, is not only offensive towards the referee, but also wrong in terms of rules, and more importantly, grabs the headlines, when really Juventus had played magnificently.
With 35 minutes left to play in Salzburg, Simone Inzaghi’s men were through. And with a 5-2 result on aggregate. To be fair, that was what was expected when the draw put the Biancocelesti against Salzburg. Then Luis Alberto, one of the key players this season, threw away the chance to score the second on the counter. It was minute 72. Between minute 73 and minute 76, Salzburg scored three, annihilating Lazio and booking their place in the semifinals. Inzaghi and his players will need a while to digest this.