Former Roma defender Federico Fazio – recently by Salernitana as a free agent – spoke to Il Mattino about his memories from that magical night at the Stadio Olimpico against Barcelona in the spring of 2018. Fazio was among the starting eleven that dominated Valverde’s team and went on to beat them 3-0, reaching the Champions League semi-final.
“The truth is that we believed in making a comeback from the very moment the match in Barcelona ended. We were sure we could overturn it in the second leg,” said the Argentinian centre-back.
“Despite losing 4-1 in the first leg, that game didn’t feel as rough as the result may have indicated.”
“We hadn’t suffered so much as a team and we didn’t deserve defeat. We were aware of the good performance of the first leg and this gave us great confidence. It had been a fair game and the result wasn’t a reflection of it.”
He added, “Plus we had the quality and the players to overturn that result.”
“You could smell something in the air during the training session leading up to the match at the Olimpico. There was a lot of positive energy inside the dressing room.”
“As defenders we knew that unlike today, away goals were worth double, so we had to make an extra effort: to concede a goal would have knocked us out.”
“When Manolas scored the goal to make it 3-0, it was a moment of such indescribable joy because we were playing a perfect match and Barcelona had never managed to get a shot on goal.”
“All we were missing was a goal to complete the feat and Kostas’ header made it happen.”
“Di Francesco told us to throw ourselves into the mix without fear because we were strong on set pieces. That was one of the many situations we had studied and thought about in training during the week. We worked a lot on set pieces and we knew that even from there we could hurt Barcelona.”
“And so it was, fortunately for us and for all the Romanistas.”