We might just have witnessed the most impressive comeback in the history of Champions’ League and was particularly a night to forget for most bookies. All odds were against a Barcelona comeback and eventual qualification, but as it was witnessed 12 years ago in Istanbul when Liverpool recovered from a three-goal deficit against AC Milan to claim the UEFA Champions League title history was made. There have been other great comebacks in this tournament over the years such as the Manchester United unbelievable comeback against Bayern Munich in 1999 Champions League final scoring two goals in the final three minutes. But last Wednesday’s clash between PSG and Barcelona is arguably one that cost bookies the most among these great turnarounds.
Barcelona came into this game trailing PSG by 4 goals, and they needed a score line of 5-0 to make it through into the quarterfinals of the tournament—something most people believed to be impossible. Bookies placed huge odds on Barcelona’s progression—a decision that would make strong believers millionaires! Barcelona came into this game with belief and oozing energy, and within three minutes they got their first goal through Luis Suarez. A demolition was looking unlikely at this point and odds were still very much favoring PSG. Another goal came right before halftime to give Barcelona a flicker of hope mounting pressure on PSG.
In-play odds were beginning to drop really quickly as all signs were pointing towards a Barcelona comeback. Then a third goal came immediately the second half began through a Lionel Messi penalty, and things were really looking likely. More bettors around the wagered for a Barcelona U-turn but their hopes were halted by an Edison Cavani goal which meant Barcelona needed to score three more goals to make it through. Impossible! Odds skyrocketed again. Neymar, one of Barcelona’s bright light whipped in a free-kick in the 88th minute to make the tie 4-1.
Barcelona needed two more goals in the space of five minutes to take this clash into the history books. It still seemed impossible. Two minutes later, Barcelona was controversially awarded another penalty which Neymar calmly buried beyond a helpless PSG keeper. 5-1! Barcelona needed just one to make it through, and it sure did come in the final minute of the added time through a Sergi Roberto phenomenon strike. PSG was shell-shocked. What a disaster for them. But this didn’t affect the French giants only; it also brought incredible losses to many sportsbooks.
Bet365’s spokesman Steve Freeth says that this was the worst result of the season, maybe ever. The company was quick to report an eight-figure-payout on the night. “Before the game started, Barcelona were hitting 10-1 to pull off a memorable comeback, which attracted a lot of bettors, because, if anyone could pull this off it would definitely be Barcelona, right?” he said. Other bookies such as Paddy Power had odds hitting 100-1 minutes before Barcelona’s three-goal salvo. Paddy Power actually had one punter place a bet in the 87th minute exactly a minute before Neymar’s free-kick goal! Millions were lost by the time the referee ended the match making this a nightmare clash for PSG fans and bookies everywhere in the world.