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In recent seasons it would seem that nothing has ever gone wrong at Barça. It’s just been one constant flow of great goals, amazing victories and wonderful title celebrations. But it hasn’t always been a bed of roses, and for Halloween we take a ride on the ghost train into the past and remember some of the nastier memories that still haunt the minds of Barça fans. Eight nights of horror when things went very, very wrong...
Littbarski casts his spell
05/11/1980 (UEFA Cup): Barça 0-4 FC Cologne
This was not one of Barça’s most glorious periods. They were in the middle of a ten-year spell without winning La Liga, but after winning 1-0 in Germany, a place in the last sixteen of the UEFA Cup seemed secure enough. It was scoreless at the Camp Nou after 40 minutes when a 20-year-old Pierre Littbarski came on as substitute for Cologne. The future international star played a blinder, scoring one and laying on two assists and manager Rinus Michels was able to celebrate a famous victory against his former club.
Metz rise from the dead
03/10/1984 (Cup Winners’ Cup): Barça 1-4 Metz
Terry Venables’ Barça already looked to have this sewn up with a 4-2 win away to the French minnows. The Metz defence had been so poor in the first leg that Bernd Schuster had even joked that when they came to Barcelona, he’d give them some Catalan ham in return for their many gifts. The Metz players wanted revenge but nobody was taking them seriously and only two reporters even bothered to travel south of the border to cover the match. The Camp Nou was more than half empty and when Carrasco put Barça 1-0 up on the night, and 5-2 on aggregate, it was game over. Only it wasn’t. In probably the most improbable comeback that the Camp Nou has ever seen, Tony Kurbos scored twice and José Vicente Sánchez put the ball in his own net to make it 3-1 to Metz. Barça were still safe on away goals until, with just five minutes to go, Kurbos completed his hat-trick and the French were through. The final whistle blew and goalkeeper Michel Ettorre made straight for Schuster and yelled “where’s your ham now?” He later explained that “I don't think he speaks French, but he understood me all right.”
07/05/1986 (European Cup): Barça 0-0 Steaua Bucharest
Barça were still awaiting their first European crown, but in May 1986 their chance had finally come. Terry Venables had a wonderful team starring the likes of Migueli, Alesanco, Víctor, Schuster, Archibald and Carrasco and with the final being held at the Sánchez Pizjuan in Seville, they were practically playing at home. And all they had to do was beat a team of virtual unknowns from Romania. But it’s never wise to celebrate a victory before it’s won. For 120 painfully dull minutes, Barça could find no way past the rock-solid Steaua defence and it all went down to penalties. Even the shootout failed to produce goals, the Romanians eventually winning it 2-0 and celebrating in front of less than 1,000 travelling supporters. For Barça, the first European Cup would have to wait.
04/11/1992 (Champions League): Barça 1-3 CSKA Moscow
In 1992, Barça finally won the European crown for the first time, but their title defence was a total fracas. After clawing past Viking of Norway 1-0 on aggregate to qualify for the group stage they only needed to beat CSKA Moscow, a club in crisis following the break-up of the Soviet Union. After the first leg in Russia ended 1-1, Nadal and Begiristain got Barça off to an early 2-0 lead at the Camp Nou, and they seemed home and dry. With no away supporters to cheer them on, and with the game not even televised in their home country because no broadcaster could afford to pay for the signal, the Russians now needed to score three against Johan Cruyff’s mighty ‘Dream Team’. And they did.
18/05/1994 (Champions League): Barça 0-4 AC Milan
European football in the mid-nineties was about two teams. Johan Cruyff and his all-conquering Dream Team and Fabio Capello’s AC Milan, who put together a 58 match unbeaten run in Serie A. When the two were due to meet in Europe’s showpiece final in Athens, both clubs billed this as their chance to seal their claim to being the best of the era. Somebody was going to end up with egg on their face. Milan were missing key defenders, so Barça fans were confident enough, but the Italians shunned their famous catenaccio approach and went for all-out attack. In a flash, Daniele Massaro had scored twice, and Dejan Savićević had chipped in a third before half-time. Marcel Desailly finished off the job after the break. Barcelona never got a look in.
Spooked by Shevchenko
05/11/1997 Barça 0-4 Dinamo Kiev
Of all the seasons in which the Champions League has been played in group format, the 1997/98 season was by far the worst for Barça. Under Louis Van Gaal, the team was dominating La Liga but Europe was another story, and after defeats to Newcastle and Kiev and a draw with PSV, Barça were bottom of their group. There was still time to turn things around, but not after this game. Rarely have Barça been played so completely off the park at the Camp Nou that the home fans had no option but to applaud their visitors when it was over. Dinamo Kiev were simply spectacular and the world was introduced to two brand new stars: Serhiy Rebrov and hat-trick hero Andriy Shevchenko.
Horror at the Coliseum
10/05/2007 (Copa del Rey): Getafe 4-0 Barça
Barcelona’s spectacular 5-2 defeat of Getafe in the 2007 Copa del Rey semi-final was a masterclass from Frank Rijkaard’s team, and Leo Messi’s goal, almost identical to the one that fellow Argentinian Diego Maradona had scored against England in 1986, is still heralded as one of the best of his career. Barça looked so comfortably assured of a place in the final that a lot of fans didn’t even bother to watch the second leg on TV and found themselves walking out of cinemas and restaurants to the learn the shocking news that somehow or other, they had undone all the good work at the Camp Nou by losing 4-0.
Monster defeat in Munich
23/04/2013 (Champions League): Bayern Munich 4-0 Barça
Tito Vilanova’s Barça team, which won La Liga with 100 points, very rarely lost. To be on the end of an absolute pasting? Unthinkable. But even the best teams in the world have their bad days, and for Barça this was a very bad day indeed. Bayern Munich ran riot with goals from Müller (2), Gómez and Robben, and although the Catalans vowed that they’d be able to turn things around in the second leg, they never came close. The Germans ended up powering into the final to the tune of a 7-0 aggregate win and the word on the street was that Bayern were the new kings of Europe. But you can’t keep FCB down for long. At the same stage of the same competition two years later, they’d be trouncing Bayern 5-3 en route to a historic treble.
It hasn’t always been glory for FC Barcelona but if history has shown us one thing, it’s that even though there will be the occasional moment of horror, you can always guarantee that they’ll bounce back up again. Happy Halloween and don’t let these dreadful memories keep you awake at night!
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