Out of Europe?

The Champions League returns tonight with the 2nd leg matches in the round of 16, kicking off with Arsenal hosting Bayern Munich.  After a 5-1 mauling over in Munich 3 weeks ago, the prospects of the Gunners reaching the Quarter Finals look slim and only the most optimistic of fans would bet on them triumphing against the Bavarian giants tonight.

It's a similar story tomorrow night when Barcelona host Paris St. Germain.  After the French cracks caused a St. Valentine's Day massacre in a 4-0 drubbing of the Catalan superstars, it will take a big push for Barça to overcome the 4 goal deficit and reach the last 8.

But neither side should count themselves out of the reckoning just yet, below are some of the great comebacks in European club football history which fans of both Arsenal and Barcelona can look to for inspiration this week.

One Night In Istanbul

  [video width="624" height="358" mp4="http://www.directsoccer.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Liverpool-v-AC-Milan-CL-Final-2005.mp4"][/video]

The final of the 2005 European Cup (Champions League) saw Liverpool face AC Milan.  After a disastrous first half the Anfield team went into the dressing room 3-0 down to their Italian opponents.  With Milan boasting an array of talent in their side, the chances for Liverpool turning it around looked bleak.  But, inspired by Steven Gerrard, the English side fought back to level at 3-3 in a 6 minute second half spell to take the game to penalties.  Jerzy Dudek was the hero as he saved Andriy Shevchenko's spot-kick to see Liverpool win their 5th European Cup against the odds.

Gute Nacht Dortmund!

  [video width="480" height="268" mp4="http://www.directsoccer.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/2503979514001_4846317811001_4846214925001.mp4"][/video]

Sticking with Liverpool, in the 2015/16 season the Reds were paired with top German side Borussia Dortmund in the quarter finals of the Europa League.  After a 1-1 draw in Germany, Dortmund looked to have sealed their qualification for the semi-finals after 9 minutes when Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emrick Aubameyang found the net to send then 3-1 ahead on aggregate.  Divock Origi reduced the deficit after 48 minutes before Marco Reus made it 3-1 on the night to Dortmund with just over 30 minutes to play.  On an emotional night for the Anfield faithful, Jürgen Klopp's men produced a comeback for the ages in the last half hour, kicked off by Philippe Coutinho's goal on 66 minutes.  With 13 minutes to play Sakho bulleted a header past the Dortmund keeper to make it 3-3 on the night, a score that would still send Dortmund through.  But the comeback was complete in injury time when Dejan Lovren rose to meet James Milner's cross to win the game 4-3 and 5-4 on aggregate for Liverpool.


Roy's Keane to keep United's dream alive!

Moving along the East Lancs Road to Manchester and back to 1999.  After a few near misses, Alex Ferguson's Manchester United side were getting ever closer to realising their dream and reaching the final of the European Cup.  In the 1998/99 season, the team blocking their passage to the final were Juventus, at the time Europe's strongest side.  The Italians took a 1-1 draw back to Turin from the first leg after Antonio Conte (now Manager of Chelsea) scored only for Ryan Giggs to equalise in the 90th minute for the Red Devils.  Goalpoacher Filippo Inzaghi scored twice in the first 11 minutes to hand Juventus a 3-1 lead and look to have put paid to United's dreams.  Step forward Roy Keane!  On a famous night for the Old Trafford skipper, Keano led his side to victory, pulling a goal back with a flicked header past Angelo Peruzzi on 24 minutes to cut the gap to 3-2.  9 minutes later Keane's personal dream was shattered when a yellow card meant he would miss the final if United were to get through.  However, unlike 9 years previously, when in the same stadium Paul Gascoigne famously broke down in tears as he realised his dreams of playing in the World Cup final were over, Keane inspired his side to victory.

A minute after Keane's booking, Dwight Yorke equalised for United following a great cross from Andrew Cole.  The scoreline still worked in the Italian side's favour before a breakaway for Yorke saw the striker brought down by Peruzzi.  However, a magical night was capped off by Cole being on hand to tap the loose ball into the empty net to put United 3-2 up (4-3 on aggregate) and send them to the final.  That wasn't the end of the dream...


United reach the promised land!

After seeing off Juventus in the semi-finals, the opponents for Manchester United in the European Cup final of 1999 were Bayern Munich. United didn't play well, being dominated by their German opponents from the 1st to the 89th minute.  But Munich could only get the ball in the net once, through Mario Basler's free kick.  When they did beat Schmeichel again, they found the goal frame to be in their way.  United then made the German's pay for failing to put the game to bed, with a last minute equaliser from Teddy Sheringham looking to have forced extra-time.  However, a corner for United was flicked on by Sheringham's head onto the boot of supersub Ole Gunnar Solskjær who sent the ball into the top corner past Oliver Kahn to make it 2-1 to the English champions and seal a historic treble on the night of what would have been the legendary United manager Sir Matt Busby's 90th birthday.


Chelsea leave Napoli feeling blue!

In the 2nd round of the 2011/12 Champions League, Chelsea found themselves travelling home to Stamford Bridge for the 2nd leg of their clash with Napoli 3-1 down.  This result cost Andre Villas-Boas his job with former Chelsea midfielder Roberto di Matteo put in temporary charge. Goals from Drogba and John Terry either side of half time made it 3-3 before Napoli went back in front.  A Frank Lampard penalty sent the game to extra-time where Branko Ivanovic was the hero for Chelsea with the winner and complete a famous comeback.  The London side would go on to defeat Benfica, Barcelona and Bayern Munich on the way to lifting their first European Cup.