The second leg Champions League match between Barcelona and PSG, which saw Barcelona overturn a 4-0 first leg deficit, with a winning goal in the last minute of injury time, has rightly been described as one of the most exciting games of football of all time.
Barcelona played a cracking match. Their forward line was unplayable; the goals, skills and intensity of the very highest calibre. With only two minutes of normal time to play, they still required three goals to qualify. It seemed an impossible task. And yet, up popped Neymar. A blinder of a free-kick on 88 minutes; followed by a penalty three minutes later. The game was nearly over. One more goal was still needed. Was there time for one last drama? Well, was there? Was there really?
Is it just me, or does there sometimes seem to be a bit of extra injury time when a game is on a knife-edge? Tedious 0-0 draws, or matches that are so one-sided such that the result has been all but decided within the first ten minutes, are often––often thankfully––put out of their misery sharp on the stroke of 90 minutes. Matches where the result still hangs in the balance often seem to be given a few precious extra minutes, which can’t easily be explained by stoppages during the match, as if in order to achieve a positive outcome. Now, I am not saying that this is not exciting. It is simply that there seems to be a modern desire to have everything finishing with a fairy tale ending. It is all about the story. But Life is just not like this. Football fans must know this more than anyone else. Disappointment is as much a part of the game as is success; for most people loyally supporting their hometown teams, disappointment is usually a far greater part of the game than success.
I don’t want to take anything away from Barcelona. Theirs was a stunning comeback, fully deserved. I just fear that football is sometimes in danger of going the way of a sport like wrestling: more showbiz fantasy than gritty reality. Each football match tells its own story: win, lose or draw. Not all games need a Hollywood ending.
© Donnie Blake
Football writer, Donnie Blake, does not believe in fairy tales.