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The Camp Nou had fans in the terraces for the first time in almost two years of European football. And although the just short of 40,000 souls created a wonderful Tuesday night atmosphere, they were sadly not treated to the result they wanted.
Barça have lost the opening fixture of a Champions League group stage for the first time since 1997. There have been games against Bayern Munich over the years that Barça fans would prefer to forget. Unfortunately this was another of those.
The Bavarians took this one 3-0, and it’s a result that puts a dent in Barça’s chances in Group E, which will continue on September 29 with a visit to Benfica in Lisbon. The Portuguese side drew 0-0 in Kyiv in tonight’s other game.
Bayern take command
Barça started the match encouragingly enough. But once Bayern had worked their way into the game it was the visitors that began to look very much the more dangerous of the two sides.
Ter Stegen’s gloves had already been well warmed and Gerard Piqué and Ronald Araujo had both made providential last-ditch tackles before the Germans found the net on 34 minutes.
Thomas Müller’s seventh goal against Barça in this competition came with more than a touch of fortune, his compatriot Ter Stegen confounded by a rebound off Eric Garcia’s back. But at least in terms of chances created, Bayern’s 1-0 lead was a reasonably fair reflection of the way the first half had gone.
The perennial Bundesliga champions wanted more. And they got it soon after the restart when Robert Lewandowski was quickest to the rebound after Jamal Musiala had thundered an effort onto the post.
With Luuk de Jong making his club debut up front, and Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia getting their first European starts for Barça, Ronald Koeman sought to change the momentum by switching things around a bit.
Alejandro Balde was sent out for his debut , while for substitutes Yusuf Demir and Gavi this was their first taste of Champions League football. Philippe Coutinho also got to play his first football since his injury last December, and against the very club where he spent the 2019/20 season on loan.
The changes seemed to have an effect. Bayern didn’t have quite the same punch and Barça were playing a lot more football in the areas that count.
So it was all the more frustrating that just when Barça were finally starting to truly click, Lewandowski added another. Once again the Pole collected a rebound off the post and Bayern now led 3-0 ... and that was game over.
Barça: Ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto (Demir, min 59), Araujo, Piqué, Eric Garcia (Mingueza, min 66), Jordi Alba (Balde, min 73), Sergio (Gavi, min 59), F. de Jong, Pedri, Memphis, L. de Jong (Coutinho, min 66).
Bayern de Múnich: Neuer, Pavard (Lucas Hernández, min 66), Süle (Stanisic, min 82), Upamecano, Alphonso Davies, Kimmich, Musiala (Gnabry, min 70), Goretzka, Sane (Coman, min 82), Müller, Lewandowski.
Goals: 0-1, Müller (min 34); 0-2, Lewandowski (min 56), 0-3, Lewandowski (min 85).
Referee: Michael Oliver. Yellows for Gavi (Barça) and Kimmich & Upamecano (Bayern Munich).
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