The Beermat Best Player In The World (Today)

We’ll get to it.

In truth given the fact that we dedicated a whole column to PSG when they dominated the first leg, we should just do the same for Barcelona until the end of time.  Which would actually be quite apt, given they have the best player in the world on any given day.  But enough about Javier Mascherano.  Skip to the end if you want total nonstop gushing over Barcelona.  We’ll meet you there.

First up, an appeal on behalf of however many people were at the Etihad last night (because as if are we buying the official attendance of 52,625).  While the rest of Europe was watching quite possibly *the* all time comeback, Pep Guardiola and Mark Hughes’ men played out a 0-0 so dull, this may be the first time you’re even aware of it happening.  It would be easy to suggest that both teams simply stopped playing somewhere around the fifty minute mark and everyone sat and held hands while Pablo Zabaleta got the popcorn in for everyone but this was not the case. Fair play to Ryan Shawcross and Bruno Martins Indi at the back for Stoke, holding Man City and creating history.  The first time a Guardiola side has ever had just one shot on target in a home game.  See.  Much better than the Barca game.

On to the incredible last minute comeback in Spain then.  What you all came here for.  Unbelievable scenes at the Riazor as Deportivo La Coruna peg back Real Betis with a ninetieth minute penalty.  If there’s any one of you that didn’t see that coming then it was worth it.  Master of mediocrity and skunk namesake Pepe Mel has done a great job with Depor, giving them some hope that they wont suffer a third relegation in six seasons.

Champions League action now and while all hell was breaking loose in one game, the other featured a very comfortable assured performance as Dortmund brushed aside Benfica to advance to the quarter finals.  While now he is among one of the most prolific and sort after strikers in all of world football, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was hardly a sure thing when he arrived in Germany.  A shining example of the fact that while it doesn’t pay off all that often,  if you take some calculated risks with recruitment and put them to work in the right surroundings then anything is possible.  Except outshining Barcelona on a night like this.

News outlets will print the numbers.  Reporters far more eloquent will try (and fail) to put into words exactly what we just witnessed.  The minutes that passed between the fifth goal of the evening and it’s conclusion will be etched in the memory of all those who were privileged enough to see it.  Speaking to something beyond football, to the human in us all; ever fallible and yet ever hopeful.  To stare up at failure that seems so inevitable and to refuse to allow it to become reality.  You always feel for the vanquished foes in this situation, not least of all because PSG don’t deserve that kind of scarring.  Saddest of all, they are excluded from the outpouring of emotion that comes with one of the iconic turnarounds in European football.  Whereas everyone else will look to this moment and use it as reason why we love the game so much, they are blind.  The darkest of clouds.  Well this got grim very quickly.  Let’s get to the good part shall we?

He’d already scored twice, the second of which started off the most dramatic of climaxes.  He’s incredibly underrated but then again when Messi and Suarez are either side of you, that’s almost understandable.  Which is probably why it’s so fitting that Neymar is the first of the three to win this award.  In the best of circumstances.  We were so tempted to give Sergi Roberto the honour, just for being the man that scored that goal.  No doubt he’ll be dining out on that for the rest of his life.  Instead it’s going to the Brazilian because of the ball in.  Not his goals.  Not his all around display.  That anyone would keep that calm of a head in such circumstances and then produce something of that quality is out of this world.  Can whoever draws Barcelona in the next round start off with a lead? We wanna see more of this!

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