March 12, 2013. FC Barcelona are at the Camp Nou, trying to overturn a 2-0 first leg deficit against AC Milan in the Champions League.
A new formation is concocted to solve the problem: a 3-4-3 which can morph into a 4-3-3. Sound familiar yet?
It happened, although the circumstances were not quite as desperate.
Less than 5 minutes in, Lionel Messi finds the top corner. 1-0. Could it be?
Barcelona build the pressure. Pedro has a penalty claimed waved off. Andrés Iniesta’s ball hits the upright, Messi’s follow up into the side netting. A dipping shot from Xavi is tipped wide.
And just like that, it almost came crashing down. Javier Mascherano misjudges a header and M’Baye Niang is all alone in front of goal. With only Victor Valdés to beat, Niang’s shot hits off the post. Sighs of relief.
Right before halftime, Iniesta assists another fine Messi strike. 2-0.
The Camp Nou is going crazy. They have full belief.
Second half. Xavi with a through ball plays in David Villa. Villa composes himself and lets it fly. 3-0. Barcelona are leading now on aggregate. Can they hold on?
Milan would have a chance to knock Barcelona out, making it 3-3 on aggergate and going through on away goals, but Jordi Alba would block a close-range Robinho shot.
And then, with almost no time on the clock and Milan pushing for that goal, a counterattack. Messi finds Alexis Sánchez, who delivers a crossfield ball to streaking Alba. Alba controls and taps it past the keeper. 4-0. Euphoria.
Can it be repeated? Well Paris Saint-Germain is better than Milan was then, and 4-0 is twice as big of a lead as 2-0... but can it be repeated...? It’s the glimmer of hope Barça fans cling onto.