That came a year after they had lost in the final to Real Madrid, just as they did in 2022, even though back then they had a side coming close to its ascendancy in Europe and the Premier League. It was at home, too, as were my two favourite great second-leg comebacks in this competition and its wee continental siblings:
Barcelona 6-1 PSG, 2017
Luis Enrique’s side were 4-0 down after a mauling at the Parc des Princes that caused uproar among their fans on social media and provoked one notoriously thin-skinned, fair-weather, inexplicably popular, entitled Twitter user to go on strike until ‘Luis Enrique is sacked’. The Champions League and double Double winning manager did announce he would leave at the end of the season but changing to three at the back inspired a turnaround in performances in the league and they began the second leg in revived form. But even they, Barcelona, could not overturn a four-goal deficit … could they? They began well, going in 2-0 up at the break by virtue of a Luis Suarez goal and a Layvin Kurzawa og. Lionel Messi made it three from the spot but when Edinson Cavani pulled one back for the visitors, Barca needed three goals in 29 minutes plus stoppage time to go through. For 27 of them they were held 3-1, but then Neymar made it 4-1, equalised on aggregate from the spot in the first of five added-time minutes but were still on their way out on away goals. And then, with seconds left, Sergi Roberto, eviscerated on and off the field in Paris, latched on to a chip over the PSG defence and hooked in a volley to win 6-1.
Bayer Uerdingen 7-3 Dynamo Dresden 1986
Two-nil up from the first leg and with a 3-1 lead at half time in the second of the 1986 Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-final, the Dynamo Dresden players could have been forgiven for playing the final 45 minutes with cigars in their mouths. Perhaps they did – with nothing to lose Bayer Uerdingen went berserk, scoring six second-half goals to go from 5-1 down on aggregate to a 7-5 victory with two apiece for Wolfgang Schafer and Wolfgang Funkel.
The best away one, I reckon, was Barcelona 1-4 Metz 1984: Such was the hopelessness of Metz’s prospects after a 4-2 home defeat in the Cup Winners’ Cup first-round tie, no television or radio broadcaster bothered to cover the return leg at a barely quarter-full Nou Camp. After being mocked by Barca’s Bernd Schuster, the Metz players were galvanised into the performance of their lives after falling further behind. They didn’t start scoring until the 38th minute but then didn’t stop, Tony Kurbos racing to a hat-trick and forcing an own goal through a deflection. Little wonder they ran up to goad Schuster at the end.
So, hope springs etc … Liverpool, who lost 1-0 at Dean Court on Saturday, are without the services of Thiago Alcantara, Luis Díaz, Joe Gomez and, sadly, Stefan Bajcetic who has a ‘stress injury that needs time to settle’ according to Jürgen Klopp. Jordan Henderson is also out, having fallen sick. Real Madrid put three past Espanyol on Saturday without Karim Benzema who was nursing an ankle injury. The captained trained on Monday and Tuesday so could start but may be used from the bench given the scale of Real’s lead. Ferland Mendy is fit again but may not be risked having not played since Jan 26 while David Alaba, who twanged his hamstring at Anfield, has only just resumed light training and will all but certainly sit this one out.