At its core, Sport is all about those unfathomable moments. Those moments where, in spite of all considered expectations and notions of logic, a team rises from nowhere to shock the world.
These miraculous occasions can come in many shapes and sizes, from one instance of insanity, to a month’s worth of implausibility. But they are all spectacular in their own right.
Alas, here are the seven teams that have pulled off the impossible:
Barcelona v PSG 2017 – Champions League Round of 16
Where else to start but that game at the Nou Camp in March 2017. In every sense of the word, this was the impossible game – you simply don’t come back from four goals down in the Champions League knockout stages.
Indeed, even though Barcelona scoring three goals in the last seven minutes of the encounter was unthinkable, the implausibility crown should probably go to PSG for their inexplicably porous defence. While the comeback may have admittedly been aided by nefarious means, when aiming for the impossible, the normal rules of the game take a back seat.
West Bromwich Albion 2004/05 – Premier League Survival
West Bromwich Albion deserve their place on this list because in May 2005 they literally did something no one else had ever done before – survive Premier League relegation after being bottom of the table on Christmas Day.
In defeating Portsmouth 2-0 at The Hawthorns on the final day, they swept away the old adage that such a position was insurmountable, providing hope for fellow stragglers in the years to come.
Leicester City 2015/16 – Premier League Champions
What makes Leicester’s Premier League triumph in 2015/16 even more impressive is that in the season preceding, they had become only the third team to match West Brom and avoid relegation from the Christmas Day abyss.
It would not be hyperbole to suggest that this rags to riches story will never be repeated in the modern era of the Premier League, and yet their story is also a source of hope to all other clubs around England that the impossible dream is possible.
Manchester United v Bayern Munich 1999 – Champions League Final
Very much the Barcelona v PSG of its day, no game encapsulated the never say die attitude of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side more than this one.
So confident were the organisers that Bayern would lift the trophy, that come the 90th minute they were prematurely decorating it with the German club’s colours. However, a probing equaliser from Teddy Sherringham in the 91st minute paused their preparations, and two minutes later Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s close range winner provoked widespread panic.
They weren’t the only ones in shock – Bayern’s own players were so dumbfounded that they needed the aid of Pierluigi Collina and his assistants just to stand up for the restart, let alone mount one last attack.
Greece – Euro 2004 Winners
It is always worth reminding yourself, in the darkest days of international footballing fanhood, that only 14 years ago, Greece were European champions.
Prior to winning this title, they had literally NEVER won a game at a major tournament in their history. They have only won three since 2004. It doesn’t get more zero to hero than that, and despite the failures since, this hero status will be everlasting.
AS Roma v Barcelona 2018 – Champions League Quarter Finals
“Roma have risen from their ruins! Manolas, the Greek God in Rome! The unthinkable unfolds before our eyes. This was not meant to happen, this could not happen… This is happening!”
The emotive words of Peter Drury from BT Sport’s coverage of this titanic clash perfectly sum up the moment in which Roma toppled Barcelona’s 4-1 advantage to incomprehensibly soar into the semi finals. Because, until then, only Barcelona themselves could bridge such a gap between legs. And that was what was so poetic about the occasion.
Liverpool v AC Milan 2005 – Champions League Final
While Roma’s 3-0 second-leg victory was all well and good, it’s not quite the same as Liverpool’s reversal of the same quantity, in half the amount of time.
Roma had a week to lick their wounds, analyse areas of potential weakness and then slowly convince themselves that they could do it. The Reds had 15 minutes. And even after they’d clawed the three goals back (in a frenzied six minutes, no less), they still had a penalty shootout to contend with. Talk about composure in the face of completing the ultimate comeback.
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