FC Barcelona won’t be continuing in the Champions League group stage following its 3-0 loss in Munich on Wednesday. The Catalan giants finished third in Group E with seven points, behind both Bayern and Benfica, and will play in the Europa League next spring.
Barcelona needed to better, or at least match, Benfica’s result in their home game against Dinamo Kyiv to go on in the Champions League. The Portuguese side won its game 2-0, but Barca’s hopes to progress were smashed even before halftime, as Bayern was already leading 2-0 after 45 minutes.
Thomas Muller opened the scoring at 34 minutes at the Allianz Arena before Leroy Sane made it 2-0 for the Bavarians 10 minutes later with a long-range effort. Teenage sensation Jamal Musiala netted Bayern’s third goal in the second half.
The match was played behind closed doors because of the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in Germany.
Barcelona last played in Europe’s second club competition in 2004, when it was called the UEFA Cup. They made it into the Round of 16 before being knocked out by Celtic Glasgow. The 2003-04 campaign was the last one for Barcelona outside the Champions League.
The 3-0 defeat to Bayern was Xavi’s second in a row as Barca boss, coming after a loss suffered against Betis over the weekend. Xavi was a Barcelona midfielder in 2001 when Barcelona last went out from the Champions League after the group stage.
This season, Barcelona only won against Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League home and away, also drawing at Camp Nou against Benfica. The Blaugrana lost 3-0 to both Bayern home and away, but also in front of Benfica in Lisbon. Bayern was the dominant force in the group, winning six out of six and scoring 22 goals while conceding only three.
Xavi: ‘A new era begins today’
FC Barcelona currently sits seventh in the La Liga table with 23 points from 15 games, no fewer than 16 points behind arch-rivals Real Madrid. Barcelona is at +3300 to close the gap and finally end up winning the Spanish title this season. They’re the fourth favorites behind Real Madrid at -500, Atletico Madrid at +700, and Sevilla at +1200.
Barcelona is at +110 to finish outside the top four, thus missing out on direct qualification to the Champions League group stage next season.
Even if they don’t regain their domestic form, they could still play Champions League football if they win the Europa League. They are the favorite to lift that trophy at +500, with Sevilla second at +550, and Borussia Dortmund third at +650.
“A new era begins today, we must return Barca where it deserves to be,” Xavi said after the Bayern defeat. “This needs to be a turning point. We shouldn’t settle with where we are at the moment. I need to tell the fans that we’ll work hard and put our skin out there to turn things around.”
Barcelona’s first chance to redeem themselves in front of their faithful will be on Sunday when they travel to Pamplona to play Osasuna. They are at -120 to win, with Osasuna at +325.