Barcelona crashed out of this season’s Champions League after a 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
The Catalan club gave itself too much to do in the final group stage match, needing to better Benfica’s result against Dynamo Kiev in the other Group E game.
While the Portuguese side strolled to a 2-0 win, Barcelona looked second-best to a dominant Bayern Munich that had already qualified for the next round.
Barcelona has been in the knockout stage of the competition every year since the 2003-2004 edition — when it failed to qualify for the tournament after a poor domestic season.
It’s the first time in 20 years that the club has qualified and then failed to progress through the group stage, indicative of the club’s decline in recent years.
Financial mismanagement has seen Barcelona lose an array of its stars in recent seasons — including former talisman Lionel Messi — and it has struggled to compete both domestically and in Europe ever since.
Ronald Koeman was sacked as manager earlier this year after a run of poor results and has been replaced by club legend Xavi in the hope of bringing the good times back to the club that last won this competition in 2015.
However, Xavi can only work with the young and inexperienced squad at his disposal and the disparity between Bayern and Barcelona was obvious early on during a miserable night in Germany.
Miserable night for Barcelona
The match at the Allianz Arena was held without supporters due to Covid restrictions in the country, and the match suffered from a lack of atmosphere.
The host, however, looked confident in possession and had multiple players capable of causing Barcelona damage.
In comparison, the visitors looked short on confidence and barely made a dent in Bayern’s defense.
It wasn’t long before two of Bayern’s brightest stars combined to take the lead. Robert Lewandowski ran behind the defense before looping a cross to Thomas Muller whose looping header narrowly crossed the line — goal line technology was needed to confirm the goal.
The opener sucked any life Barcelona had and Bayern stamped even more authority on the game, with Leroy Sane doubling his side’s lead before half-time.
The second period offered more of the same and it wasn’t long before Bayern added to its opponent’s woes, with Jamal Musiala turning into the net after wonderful work from the ever-threatening Alphonso Davies down the left side.
After finishing third in the group, Barcelona will now compete in the Europa League, which could prove to be its most realistic way of qualifying for the Champions league next season, given it is seventh in La Liga.