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Reliving the High Point of 2018: The Manolas Miracle

Roma shouldn’t have had a shot in hell...but then it happened.

AS Roma v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

As the year comes to a close, we here at CdT will be reflecting on all things Roma from 2018; the good, the bad, and everything in between. With the holiday season upon us, I thought it would be fitting to reflect on the best gift that the Giallorossi delivered in 2018. Consequently, I believe that you’d be hard pressed not find almost unanimous agreement over this one. Roma’s high point of 2018 has to be none other than the incredible second leg victory over Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinals.

The Giallorossi were utterly annihilated 4-1 in the first leg at the Camp Nou. It looked like Roma’s semifinal aspirations were in ruins. Except a late Edin Dzeko goal, which at the time didn’t feel like it, gave Roma just the faintest glimmer of hope. That faint glimmer of hope grew and grew throughout the second leg, with each Roma goal the illumination burned slightly brighter and brighter crescendoed into the nuclear flash that exploded from the Olimpico when Kostas Manolas headed home Roma’s third goal.

Entering the match nobody would’ve given Roma a shot in hell of turning around a three goal deficit against mighty Barcelona. After all, over the last decade the Catalan giants had become a fixture in the Champions League semifinals; and not for nothing, it was a three goal lead. One goal from the mighty Leo Messi, or a host of other world class players would’ve been enough to kill off that faint flickerof hope. Yet somehow, the bespectacled mad man that is Eusebio Di Francesco came up with the perfect game plan. And Roma executed it to a tee.

The image of Kostas Manolas streaking down the Olimpico pitch, arms outstretched, screaming like in maniac still gives me goosebumps. And I’m sure it will continue to do so for years to come. Not only will this be remembered as Roma’s best moment of 2018, but it will remain in the annals of Roma history, for the time being, as Roma’s top Champions League memory in club history.

As commentator Peter Drury said so well, “Roma have risen from their ruins.” Rome wasn’t built in a day, but on that day it felt like the whole damn empire could’ve been rebuilt to its former glory with Manolas letting out a guttural “Veni, Vedi Vici”. What a day. What a memory.