On Wednesday night Bayern Munich advanced to the round of 16 as group winners in the Champions League by defeating Barcelona 3-0 at Camp Nou.
After Inter Milan’s 4-0 win over Viktoria Plzen in the early window on Monday Xavi Hernandez’s team knew they had no chance of advancing to the knockout stage for the second year in a row.
Sadio Mane and Eric Maxim Choupo scored in the first half.
With Moting’s help, Bayern finished first in Group C with 15 points one game ahead of Inter Milan for second place. It doesn’t matter what happens on the last day of the season, Barcelona will finish third and qualify for the Europa League.
We have to confront our new reality, today we didn’t even have the level to compete Xavi stated after the game. To say the least I think today’s game was tougher than it should have been mentally because we knew we were eliminated.
We had high hopes for the season, but we were placed in a tough group and never got good enough to compete. It’s a major letdown.
Mane scored Bayern’s early goal after racing onto a through ball from Serge Gnabry, avoiding a challenge from Barcelona’s Hector Bellerin, and then chipping the ball over the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Choupo-Moting extended the visitors’ lead on the half-hour mark, finishing from a narrow-angle through Ter Stegen’s knees after being set up by Gnabry’s second astute pass.
Just before halftime, Barcelona had a penalty kick opportunity to cut the deficit in half, but referee Anthony Taylor reversed his call for a foul in the area on Robert Lewandowski after reviewing the play on the pitch-side monitor and seeing that the Poland striker had stepped into his defender to initiate the contact.
While it appeared that Gnabry had extended his hot streak by scoring Bayern’s third, the goal was disallowed due to a questionable offsides call.
Substitute Benjamin Pavard scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time after Gnabry’s cross-shot deflected beautifully to him.
“The manner in which we triumphed invigorates us much. I don’t think Barca was prepared for our level of confidence. But you have to do it when you play Barcelona,” Bayern manager Julian Nagelsmann remarked after the game. Two of our goals were beautiful, and we added an insurance marker at the very end. With such fervor, we held our ground in defense. Tonight, the team made a statement.
Barca has only advanced to the semifinals of the Champions League once since 2015, in 2019. They were eliminated in the quarterfinals in 2020 (an 8-2 loss to Bayern) and again in 2021 (a 16-1 loss to PSG), and in the two subsequent tournaments, they did not advance out of the group stage.
As a result of the loss of Lionel Messi to Paris and the club’s financial woes, Barca was eliminated in the group stage last year. With the high-priced additions of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde, however, higher hopes were held for the upcoming campaign.
They finished third in their group for the second year in a row despite winning just one of their first five games in the competition. This will send them to the Europa League, the second tier of European competition.
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