It’s Not Over! Six Champions League miracles to inspire Arsenal and Manchester City

The odds are stacked against Arsenal and Manchester City this week as they travel to Monaco and Barcelona respectively needing unlikely victories – we make it 6/1 for the Gunners to qualify and 10/1 for City to continue their European dream. But, as Stephen Tudor reminds us, it’s been done before. Can it happen again?

[embedded content]

1) Liverpool v AC Milan 2005

Should Arsenal or City need additional inspiration ahead of their arduous tasks this week they’d be well advised to watch a DVD of the Miracle of Istanbul.

At half-time the then four times champs were horribly reeling, undone by the twin threat of Shevchenko and Crespo and a magnificent Kaká pulling all the strings.

Three goals down the Reds’ peerless reputation on the continent lay in ruins and with 45 minutes still to play surely damage limitation now took priority to avoid a humiliating thumping?

Thankfully Stevie G and his cohorts had other ideas, somehow producing a comeback of such phoenix-from-the-flames thrills n spills it barely defied belief.

It meant Liverpool fans could mention ‘five times’ quite a lot. It meant Djimi Traore has a Champions League medal in his cabinet.

[embedded content]

2) Juventus v Manchester United 1999

Compare and contract two semi-final yellow cards dished out in Turin. The first left Gazza sobbing buckets and dangerously close to meltdown. The second – brandished nine years later – meant that Roy

Keane would similarly miss the biggest game of his life should Manchester United achieve the impossible and overturn a two goal deficit. So he rolled up his sleeves, did that fierce stare of his, and made hellfire sure that it happened.

Keano’s performance, as he hauled and cajoled his team-mates to a famous 3-2 victory, has rightfully gone down in folklore and resulted in the only waterworks shed that barmy evening were from the grand Old Lady herself.

[embedded content]

3) Deportivo Coruna v AC Milan 2004

The Milan side of this vintage were imperious and determined to retain their European crown. A 4-1 quarter-final first-leg demolition of Deportivo was administered with their usual mix of élan and ruthlessness and all that remained now was for Nesta and Maldini to do their job and let nature take its course.

Maybe Shevchenko could pick at the carcass. Perhaps Pirlo could showboat with a set piece worldy. Nobody foresaw a four goal Galician blitz.

Nobody expected Walter Pandiani to reduce the great Maldini to a flailing wreck. Even today the performance pickles the brain like a snackish Hannibal Lector.

[embedded content]

4) Monaco v Real Madrid 2004

A 4-2 thriller in Madrid offered the principality hope in this quarter-final second-leg clash, hope that was all-but extinguished by a typically stylish Raúl finish on the half-hour mark.

Les Rouges et Blancs now required three against a Real side at their most galactico or, put another way, the game was royally up.

Winger Ludovic Guily thought otherwise and drilled home a speculative effort in first half injury time before Fernando Morientes – on loan from the Spanish giants – rose and bit the hand that fed him fortunes with a sublime arced header.

The incredible cause was completed by Guily with is perhaps not a surprise: Players nicknamed the ‘Magic Elf’ tend to believe in fairytales.

[embedded content]

5) Real Madrid v Arsenal 2006

In a post-Invincible lull the Gunners travelled to the Bernabeu further blighted with a string of key injuries. Even their luminous superstar Thierry Henry was desperately struggling for form and the feeling was this cruel last 16 pairing would see Arsenal’s season end in February.

A virtuoso strike from the Frenchman was the solitary goal over both legs but what really defeated Ronaldo, Zidane and co was a defensive masterclass overseen by Wenger.

Yup you read that last bit right: A defensive masterclass overseen by Wenger.

[embedded content]

6) Werder Bremen v Anderlecht 1993

As Heather Mills’ millions prove miracles are not always two-legged.

In a group stage from which both club’s ultimately failed to progress the Belgians stormed into an unlikely three goal lead and with just twenty minutes left looked to be coasting. Even a consolation strike from Wynton Rufer wasn’t enough to prevent a huge exodus from the Weserstadion on a freezing cold night in Bremen but how those early leavers must have regretted their decision.

The Bundesliga champions dug deep, found some distinctly Teutonic resilience and pulled off a remarkable turnaround banging in four in a late onslaught. Cue utter bedlam.

***

Check out all the latest odds for Monaco v Arsenal and Barcelona v Man City