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Played in front of an empty Allianz Arena and with snow falling from the Bavarian skies, there was already something surreal about a game that was going to mean something stranger still. Barça would be missing out on the Champions League group stage for the first time in 18 years.
The 3-0 defeat means that Barça will instead be playing in the Europa League when European returns in early 2022. For defeat in the south of Germany coupled with Benfica’s 2-0 victory over Dynamo Kyiv means it will be the Portuguese side that will be joining Bayern in the last sixteen of Europe’s premier club competition.
Bad news from Lisbon
The outcome was all wrong, but things had got off to a promising start. Bayern, with nothing to lose in this game, seemed content to push forward and have fun from the start, and did flunk two very easy chances that were called offside anyway. but all that was leaving them very exposed at the back, and that’s never a good idea against a team that has a speedster like Ousmane Dembélé in its ranks.
Despite not necessarily dominating the game, most of the early chances were falling to FC Barcelona.
In the meantime, news came through that Benfica were already two goals up against Dynamo. At least it meant the situation was confirmed. Barça knew they were going to have to win this, and the cause was not helped by Jordi Alba withdrawing with a first half injury. Oscar Mingueza took his place.
Matters worsened when Bayern took the lead. Ronald Araujo looked to have cleared Thomas Muller’s header off the line, but GLT determined that the ball had crossed the line. Muller already held the record for goals scored against Barça in UEFA competitions, and now he’d extended his tally to eight.
A difficult task became near impossible when Leroy Sané fired in a 30-yard thunderbolt shortly before the break.
Barça now needed a comeback of epic proportions. There were moments when it looked like the players really believed they could do it, and there was a major let-off when Sané missed an absolute sitter.
But on 62 minutes, Jamal Musiala tapped in an Alphonso Davies assist. Barça faces dropped all around the pitch.
There was no coming back from this. The only hope now was miraculous news from Lisbon. But that wasn’t happening either.
Into the Europa League
There was no further story to the game. Barça’s hearts were no longer in it. And understandably so.
And so a new adventure begins in February. The Europa League. It’ll be a new experience for the team, and one that maybe now feels like scant consolation after almost two decades in at least the last sixteen of the Champions League.
But come February, with spirits lifted, the road to Seville is one that they will surely relish. Força Barça…
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