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Luis Suarez and how a dive created Barcelona's comeback victory

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9.48K   //    11 Mar 2017, 08:58 IST
Luis Suarez’s fall in the box late in the game was exaggerated

The photo of Sergi Roberto standing above the fans, heralded by his adoring faithful like a deity had descended upon them, will be the lasting image of the greatest comeback in European football history. With his goal completing the 6-1 victory, all that came beforehand was shoved into irrelevance.

However, in every good story, there is the one person who without their interference, the glory could not take place. The difference in this tale was that to achieve their goal, Barcelona had to do something underhanded to gain the advantage.

That was encapsulated in Luis Suarez's blatant dive in the 90th minute.

After his fellow Uruguayan teammate, Edinson Cavani had given Paris Saint-Germain a vital goal, the Catalan giants looked dejected. They began to strop, throwing themselves around and lunging in, resorting to desperate methods to find some kind of route back into the game.

Also Read: Why Luis Enrique deserves credit for Barcelona's history-making comeback against PSG

Even when Neymar swung in his pinpoint free-kick with just over two minutes of regular time, they still didn’t believe they could do it. Neither did the Camp Nou, that rose in noise briefly in appreciation of the Brazilian's excellence but not enough to rouse a final push.

FC Barcelona v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg : News Photo
Barcelona players haranguing the referee to award them a penalty

What did flip the switch was Suarez's blatant conning of the referee. Having already been booked for a similar dive five minutes before, this time the official bowed under the pressure of the storyline and gifted Barcelona their route back into a tie that was all but dead.

Some might say that with the forward behind the defender, he was simply giving the referee a decision to make. Given that the actual contact was about as minimal as the phone line between Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho, it shouldn’t have been a difficult decision although the official can be forgiven for his positioning as the ball was played long.

That was the catalyst, with PSG knowing now that the home side would throw everything at them with a stadium rising to the occasion just as much as those on the field. Combine that with the big match experience in red and blue in comparison to the worried looks in white, the result almost felt inevitable from that point on, even if it was still spectacular nonetheless.

Also Read: How Paris Saint-Germain threw away certain victory over Barcelona

Despite the likes of Marco Verratti bypassing the question, admitting that PSG still should have seen out the game, deflects from a real issue. To those watching, cheating in order to win was advocated but the narrative remains that of beating everything against all odds.

Fc Barcelona v Paris Saint-Germain - Uefa Champions League Round of 16 : Second Leg : News Photo
The former Liverpool man was at his theatrical best against PSG

Maybe it’s the mystique of Barca, the beautiful club that have dominated for so long with an easy-on-the-eye style and with a squad full of big names. If this was the reverse, where the French champions dethroned them with such tactics, would it have been revered as much?

While that is a pretty aggressive question, it is something to be said. Had this been the classic ‘villain’ club, a la Real Madrid or Manchester United, many would be pointing the finger at the gamesmanship stemming the tide rather than the courage displayed to fight on in a game that seemed dead.

In fact, this was a strange game overall. Barcelona never needed to really shift into top gear, their first two goals were extremely poor defensive mistakes while the third was another debatable penalty, so the talk of PSG crumbling works so much better for the tale that will be woven into history.

Also Read: 5 reasons why Barcelona are one of the most unbeatable of teams on their day

Again, the calls of adding video technology to aid the referees in these pivotal, important decisions will only get louder. While it could be argued that the official behind the goal should have spotted the simulation, getting an extra few camera angles on the incident will only help ensure the officials come to the right decision.

In the end, it feels like most will continue to believe that the means justify the ends. What it feels like to others is a great dessert that leaves a slightly bitter taste in the mouth.

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Sports writer and podcast extraordinaire. Can be found writing about French football for Get French Football News and Outside of the Boot, while raving about anything at his blog, Held Together By Staples.
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