We’re still scratching our heads trying to figure out how Roma managed to overturn a 4-1 deficit to knock Barcelona out of the Champions League.
While British eyes were focused on Manchester City v Liverpool, the Italian club won 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico, with the victory capped off by a Kostas Manolas header and some remarkable local commentary.
The victory came barely a year after Barcelona themselves launched an equally remarkable comeback to eliminate Paris Saint-Germain from the same competition, so perhaps Roma thought “If they can do it, it can be done to them”.
Not, however, according to their forward Grégoire Defrel, however, who cited an entirely different inspiration for the sensational performance.
In an interview with RMC, as translated by ESPN, Defrel revealed that Al Pacino’s iconic speech in Any Given Sunday had played a major role in proceedings.
The Frenchman explained that coach Eusebio di Francesco had given an inspiring team-talk before the game, but had added to the material with what many will agree is among the most rousing scenes from any sports film, if not from any film in general.
“[Di Francesco] gave a good team talk before the game and he showed us a video to fire us right up, and I think it worked,” Defrel said.
“He showed us Al Pacino’s team talk, which lasts four minutes, and we all watched that on the bus. He put it on in English and in Italian.”
“You could feel that we were going to play well. The whole team showed that on the pitch,” added Defrel, who sat out the game after playing 13 minutes in the first leg in Barcelona.
He added that it helped to have inspirational figures on the pitch throughout, not least captain and one-club man Daniele De Rossi, who scored from the penalty spot to make it 2-0 on the night.
Roma will now face Bayern Munich, Liverpool or Real Madrid in the semi-finals, the first leg of which will be played on the week of 23 April.
It’s same to assume they’ll be running the clip again before that one…