The stars were aligned, the impossible became reality – Roma are through to the semifinals!
After losing 4-1 in the first leg, Roma had the odds firmly stacked against them ahead of the return leg in Rome. La Liga leaders Barcelona were seen by many as favourites to take home the Champions League trophy this season, and after a convincing victory at the Camp Nou, surely nothing was going to stop them to make it in to the semifinals.
In the 2nd leg of the quarterfinals, Roma had to score at least 3 goals and concede none against Barcelona and arguably the best player in the world, Leonel Messi. A small light of hope appeared early on however, when Edin Dzeko cut through a seemingly unfocused Barcelona defence and made it 1-0 after just 6 minutes.
Fired up by the early goal, the Italians kept applying pressure to Barcelona’s shaky defence on the day. Despite their best efforts, the result remained 1-0 until the 58th minute, when Dzeko went down after being one-on-one with defender Pique and a penalty was awarded. Captain Daniele De Rossi didn’t hesitate as he firmly tucked away the penalty and made it 2-0.
Even at this crucial stage of the game, the Catalans failed to respond and to put Roma under any serious pressure. With players like Messi and Suarez, just to name a few, it’s a mystery what was really going on within the Barcelona team this evening. Throughout the entire game, the Spanish defence had a hard time coping with Roma’s crosses and the cheer size of attackers Dzeko and Schick. In midfield they looked tired and up front they had run out of ideas. Not at all being the Barcelona we’re used to!
Then in the 82nd minute it happened: a swinging corner from the right and Greek international Manolas met the ball perfectly with the header and made it 3-0 – what a result and what a game! The volume inside the stadium was absolutely incredible and it’s magic times like these that makes football the most popular sport in the world. Tears of joy and tears of sadness could be seen everywhere inside the electric Olympic stadium.
In the semifinals, Roma will be joined by Liverpool who rather surprisingly too, managed to edge past Manchester City to make it their first semifinal in 10 years.
The two remaining semifinalists will be decided tonight, as German giants Bayern Munich take on Sevilla in Munich and reigning champions Real Madrid will entertain Italian champions Juventus at Santiago Bernabéu.