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FC Barcelona’s Sergi Roberto: From Scapegoat to Hero

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His performance was panned in the first leg, but he’s in the history books now.

FC Barcelona v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Sergi Roberto couldn’t sleep last night. “I wasn’t sure if it was a dream,” he admitted. Hours before, as he celebrated on the pitch, his teammate Rafinha had told him, “it’s not a dream, it’s not a dream, it’s not a dream!”

But he could barely believe it last night as messages of congratulations kept flooding in.

What a turnaround.

Barcelona had completed a miraculous comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, scoring 3 goals in an hour and then 3 more with 7 minutes left.

And the last goal came off his boot, a gentle caress of a volley at full stretch to loop the ball past Kevin Trapp and into the back of the net.

It was a total turn from the first leg, where Roberto played as a right-back and was frequently isolated by PSG, and frequently lost out as the French team stormed to a 4-0 win.

Roberto always considered himself a midfielder but Luis Enrique had placed him as a full-time fullback, and though he had his moments, he was not looking good lately in the role.

Luis Enrique changed tactics, eliminating fullbacks from his system altogether, going from 4-3-3 to 3-4-3, and in effect moving Roberto to a more natural spot in the middle of the park.

Roberto didn’t play most of the game, but he looked good after coming on for Rafinha. One goal - not even one like that - is not enough to say it’s all roses now, but it’s a heck of a confidence boost.

It’s fair to say Roberto will relish his new role in the new system, and he may remain an important squad player for years to come.

Or he won’t, but even then, he’ll always have that goal.