Bayern Munich advanced to the last 16 of the Champions League after beating Barcelona 3-0 at Camp Nou on Wednesday night.
Xavi Hernandez’s side went into the game knowing they would miss the play-offs for the second consecutive year after beating Internacional Victoria 4-0 in the opening window on Monday.
Inter Milan finished second as goals from Sadio Mane and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting in the first half and a header from Benjamin Pavard put Bayern ahead with 15 points with a game to play. Barcelona, who will finish third regardless of the result on the final day of the match, will advance to the Europa League.
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Wednesday’s result was yet another setback for the Catalan club, and it could be even more expensive than last season as the club spent the summer to bolster their squad in hopes of cashing in on a deep run in Europe.
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1. Barcelona played after their elimination from the Champions League.
Barcelona knew their Champions League hopes were over for another season when Inter Milan beat Victoria Plazen earlier on Wednesday, and as a team they occasionally played forlorn against Bayern. Despite Xavi Hernandez’s insistence before the game that Barca could compete on the biggest stage, they failed to beat one of Europe’s best in recent times. Classico Defeat by Real Madrid.
Barca regretted missed chances in Munich, refereeing decisions in Milan and individual mistakes in a 3-3 draw with Inter, but they have not been good enough in their last five Champions League games. The fact that there are only four points is a reflection of that.
They can’t defend Bayern like they did. Sadio Mane and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had easy chances to find the back of the net that angered Xavi. Bayern, too, felt as though it could have gone up a few more gears. Hector Bellerin and Marc-Andre ter Stegen made a last-ditch save before half-time. Serge Gnabry, the scorer of all three goals, was sent off before an unmarked Benjamin Pavard added a third.
Barca, on the other hand, never really tested Bayern goalkeeper Sven Ulrich with their play, scrimmages and rushes. The closest they came to a goal was Matthijs de Liguet’s overturned penalty on Robert Lewandowski, who was once again forced to endure a painful night against the club who left him for €45m in the summer.
2. Focus on winning the Europa League, La Liga for Barcelona
Barca have invested more than €150 million in the summer after selling off club assets as they aim to reach the Champions League final. With that now impossible, how do you regroup from here?
The main focus will now be La Liga. Despite the defeat in Madrid, they have started well and after 11 games and just one loss, they sit just three points off the top spot. A much-improved team with Lewandowski as the league’s top scorer and young talent led by Pedri and Gavi should keep Carlo Ancelotti’s side running close.
But they are certainly not favorites at the moment and he says Xavi knows he can be replaced even if he doesn’t win a trophy this season. That leaves the Europa League favorites despite knowing the danger in Europe’s second-tier competition after last season’s surprise quarter-final defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt. Then there’s the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Supercopa. It wasn’t what they envisioned in the summer when Lewandowski, Rafinha and Jules Kunde were announced, but there is still plenty of improvement on last season’s trophyless campaign.
There seems to be some patience from fans. The presence of club legend Xavi at the helm of the project and their average attendance of over 80,000 at Camp Nou this season suggests there is a connection. There were 84,016 at the Bayern defeat and those who stayed until the end didn’t stop signing.
3. Bayern Munich showed why they are the benchmark.
Bayern Xavi is one of the benchmarks they want to take on the Barca side. They are also a team that should be very sick of facing Barca. This is the year It was their sixth win in a row against the Catalans, which stretches back to 2015 and includes 8-2 and three 3-0s, and their 11th win in 15 official meetings.
Their performance at Camp Nou was as professional as it comes. Convinced of a place in the last 16, they played as if there was still something riding on the game as they finished ahead of their last game against Inter, winning 6 out of 6. From what some have described as the toughest team of the tournament.
The win saw Manuel Neuer, Lucas Hernandez and Leroy Sane miss out through injury, with Thomas Muller fit only for a second-half cameo. Still, with the likes of Mane, Gnabry and Jamal Musialla, Union Berlin still keep them at the top of the Bundesliga, but they remain one of the most feared teams in Europe.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen 6; Bellerin 4, Kounde 5, Alonso 5, Balde 6; Busquets 6, De Jong 6, Kessie 5, Pedri 6; Dembele 6, Lewandowski 6
Subscribers Rafinha 5, Torres 5, Garcia 5, Ansu 5, Torre 5
Bayern Munich: Ulrich 6; Mazraoui 7, Upamecano 6, de Ligt 7, Davies 6; Kimmich 7, Gorezza 6; Gnabry 9, Musiala 8, Mane 8; Chupo-Moting 7
Subscribers Sabitzer 6, Mueller 6, Pavard 6, Gravenburch 6, Staniske 5.
Best and worst performers
Best: Serge Gnabry, Bayern Munich.
Brilliantly creating Bayern’s first two goals and narrowly offsides, he added a third in the second half. Complete the Late Helper hat trick.
Worst: Hector Bellerin, Barcelona.
Given the tough task of marking Mane’s first start since September 10 since his return from injury. He missed the first goal and played Chupo-Moting offside for the second. He made a brilliant first-half block and never gave up, but it was a difficult night for the former Arsenal man.
Highlights and famous moments
Oh mane, mane. He took the wind out of an already defeated Camp Nou crowd with his early goal.
Come to the Sadio Mane camp! 🤫 pic.twitter.com/tca0VMMI7A
– CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 26, 2022
A tweet from Inter Milan before kick-off definitely doesn’t include Barcelona.
Download again if your club is eligible for this #UCL 16th round 😁
– Inter (@Inter_en) October 26, 2022
But at least the Catalans are getting a warm European welcome.
Welcome @FCBarcelona 🤗
– UEFA Europa League 🕙 (@Differential_PL) October 26, 2022
After the game: what the managers, players said
Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez after the match: “We weren’t at Bayern’s level today. They were better. In Munich we were ourselves but today they were better, stronger. The loss before the game affected us psychologically. Now we have to train again tomorrow and think about La Liga. There were a lot to expect, but “We’ve got a strong team. We’ve had all sorts of things happen as a team, we’ve been wronged, but we didn’t have a good competition today.”
Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen scored: give up. We didn’t lose it today, but overall it’s a pain right now. One of his goals was to stay in the Champions League. Now we have to focus on what is to come in La Liga.
Knowing we were already out had an impact. It was a strange feeling. It was more pride but we couldn’t match Bayern tonight. They scored goals at key times and we couldn’t compete.
On Foreknowing Barcelona’s Pedri’s Fate: You don’t enter the game with the same motivation. [after the Inter win]. We wanted to win the fans but it was not possible. We owe a lot to these fans. They were always with us. We owe you a victory and a trophy. I hope we can give them from now on.
We are a young team with a lot of room for improvement. We need to improve a lot. We are not yet ready to compete in the Champions League. What happened today is very sad. Given what we have seen, it is clear that we are not yet ready to compete. [at the top level].
Key Stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Info)
– After 17 consecutive seasons of reaching the knockout rounds of the Champions League, Barcelona are set to miss out on consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1997-98 and 1998-99 campaigns.
– take care Cools. Barcelona are already favorites to win the Europa League with a 27% chance, according to FivethirtyEight’s SPI.
– Bayern won 6 consecutive games against Barcelona, tied with Espanyol from 1940-42. Real Madrid’s longest winning streak against Barcelona was seven games from 1962-65.
– A generally disappointing Champions League performance from La Liga clubs. While Real Madrid progressed, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid also failed to reach the last 16, marking the first time since 1998-99 that Spain had eliminated multiple teams. That year, only 8 teams made it to the playoffs, with Real being the only representative.
Barcelona: Back in La Liga on Saturday against a rising Valencia side. Then Tuesday’s trip to Victoria Place, hoping to end a disappointing Champions League campaign on a high.
Bayern Munich: They host Mainz in the next Bundesliga game on Saturday. They will then look to continue their impressive Champions League group record in the final match of the round against Inter Milan on Tuesday.