BARCELONA: Bayern Munich gave Barcelona a brutal display of how far their opponents have come as they head to a 3-0 Champions League win on Tuesday, with Robert Lewandowski (Photo) scoring twice in a rout at Camp Nou.
Without Lionel Messi for a first European campaign since 2003, Barca were dominated by Bayern, who might have scored more but were finally content with three thanks to the deflected opening scoring of Thomas Mueller and the double from Lewandowski.
When Lewandowski did it two early, the possibility of yet another humiliation in the mold of last year’s 8-2 loss to the same opponents in Lisbon seemed very real.
Instead, Bayern may have delivered an even stronger message about the classroom divide by calming down in the later stages as Barca fans expressed anger, dismay and finally a sense of resignation.
“It is what it is,” said Gérard Piqué. “We are what we are, this is reality.”
“We could have been better,” Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann said.
Barcelona failed to muster a single shot on target, made fewer passes – once almost unheard of at Camp Nou – and have now conceded 10 goals in their last three European games.
Sergi Roberto was at the end of the loudest whistles from home fans and it was impossible not to wonder if the criticism stemmed in part from disappointment at his lack of progress on the right flank, where Messi has created so much.
“They (the whistles) hurt me a lot because I know him, he’s a spectacular person,” Pique said. “And people have to remember he’s not a winger.”
Ronald Koeman’s own position has come under scrutiny in recent weeks and his 5-3-2 formation, which challenges Barcelona’s offensive traditions, will not have strengthened his hand.
Still, the main thing here was the lack of quality Barcelona side – after their turbulent sales summer – which was inferior to Bayern’s in all departments.
“We obviously wanted to compete better, but that’s what we have,” said Koeman. “I can’t fault the efforts of the players.”
Mueller now has seven goals in six appearances against the Catalans while Lewandowski has scored in 18 consecutive matches.
Nagelsmann’s strong start in charge continues with a sixth straight win – but Bayern will face tougher opposition in the Champions League than that, perhaps even in Group E, where Benfica and Dynamo Kiev started with a draw.
Like an underdog, Barca quickly surrendered to Bayern, eager to physically impress themselves on an opponent whom he perhaps knew would be technically superior.
The crowd was also present, cheering Luuk de Jong in front of Alphonso Davies and Sergi Roberto fending off Dayot Upamecano.
There was then a hint of opportunity when Memphis Depay slipped De Jong but he didn’t have the speed to capitalize and Benjamin Pavard cleared.
The early enthusiasm could only sustain Barcelona for so long and as the game set in, Bayern gradually took control.
Leroy Sane flew to Marc-André ter Stegen. Gerard Pique had to face an ultimate challenge to stop Mueller.
But Bayern’s authority was established, even though their opening goal owed a lot to fortune, with Mueller unleashing 30 yards and the ball deflecting Eric Garcia’s back, catching Ter Stegen on the wrong foot and sneaking in. of the post.
Barca withered before half-time as the atmosphere turned sour as passes got lost and attacks came to a halt.
Another push after halftime saw Sergio Busquets drive wide but Bayern came back.
Sane kicked Ter Stegen’s right foot over eight yards, then Lewandowski scored two, inserting the ball into an open goal after Barca’s keeper engaged on Jamal Musiala’s shot which took off from the post.
Under the threat of another beating, Koeman took away Sergi Roberto and Busquets, to a chorus of whistles from home fans. Yusuf Demir, 18, and Gavi, 17, entered the scene.
Still, Bayern spared Barca a humiliation, waltzing yet again later as Lewandowski danced through a multitude of bodies and shot with five minutes left. For Barça, three felt like a relief. – AFP