In the culmination of an evident decline, our editors share their takes and standout performers of the fateful Barcelona 2–8 Bayern Munich.
Everyone knows what happened on Friday night and it needs no further explanation. However, after the historic humiliation through a 2–8 Bayern win in the Champions League quarter-finals, our editors share their different perspectives on what occurred to Barcelona in Lisbon.
Absolutely horrendous, but much needed
Outplayed. Outrun. Outsmarted. Those are the words that describe Bayern Munich’s performance against Barça. They were just better at everything that we tried to do. Bayern’s defence was not rock solid, but we failed to exploit the same. Barça looked like a mess out there with no plan or preparation. Wingers like Ansu Fati and a bright midfielder in Riqui Puig should have started the game.
The Bavarians were given too much space on the right side where Nélson Semedo was often caught high up the pitch. Bayern were brilliant in their pressing and we simply couldn’t play out from the back. The team’s inability to adapt was at show as well. They continued to play short passes in their own box even when it was clear that Bayern were forcing us into costly mistakes. The team did not have the legs to keep up with Bayern’s free-flowing game. A staggering yet much required reality check.
Standout performer: Bayern’s entire team
Thomas Müller, Serge Gnabry, Alphonso Davies, Manuel Neuer, Phillipe Coutinho and Thiago Alcântara. The list goes on and on. Every single player had more determination, hunger and flair than the blaugranas. They reeked of quality and confidence. Everyone was always in the right position and their relentless pressing and energy ultimately doomed Barcelona.
Told you so!
In my review of Barcelona’s second leg game against Napoli last week, I had said that the Catalan side were going from the frying pan into the fire. And into the fire they went. FC Barcelona tasted their worst loss in Champions league history last night.
Even before the ball started rolling, there were rumours that Barca would line up in a 4–4–2 formation, hoping to control the mid-field. Like many of their fans around the world, I had hoped they wouldn’t do that. Because that system is something Barça cannot work with. Defensively, if you want to rely on two banks of four — in a 4–4–2 —, your unit needs to be highly disciplined and coordinated. Offensively, the two strikers up top will have to be very mobile and be supported by dynamic wing backs who can maraud up and down in no time. The blaugranas had none of these luxuries, and still went ahead with that system.
Barça were 1–1 at one point, but it all crumbled fast | Photo by Manu Fernández / Pool / AFP via Getty Images
Going into the game therefore, it was clear that Quique Setién and Co. had not done their homework. Playing with a high backline and pushing their wing-backs forward, Bayern’s vulnerability lies in the wings and in defending balls played over the midfield into the wings — the two goals that Barça scored stands evidence to this. And this is no new information. This has been pointed out by twitterati since a while ago.
The fact that Setién went into such a game, with an extra midfielder, and no wingers to stretch the backline is unbelievable. What exactly did the extra midfielder accomplish — stability in the middle of the park, or securing the backline? The answer is neither. Having no wingers forced Barça’s full-backs to try and spend more time in the attack. This meant more space for Alphonso Davies and Joshua Kimmich to run into — and how they used it! Davies in particular, targeted his opposite number Nélson Semedo and exploited the latter’s inability to get back to defensive position again and again.
Standout performer: Luis Suárez
Yes, the Barcelona squad did not cover itself in glory last night. They were weak across the pitch. But if there is someone who can believe he did a decent job, that’s Luis Suárez. If for nothing else, the will he showed and the fight he put up till the end; even as most of his team mates had given up. Suárez tried his best to press Manuel Neuer.
His efforts, though, were not supported by his teammates. A good example of this was when Suárez called out to Antoine Griezmann to mark the passing outlet, as he himself was closing down on the goal keeper. It was clear that Griezmann’s indifference enraged the Uruguayan. It is only fitting that the only goal scored by a Barça player last night came from Suárez’s boots.
Eight. 8. EIGHT. How? Why? Could we have prevented that? Yes. Did we do enough to deserve less? Of course not. Barça is a club built on pride, and every time they suffer from a bad moment, they get right back up and win trophies and games.
In 2014, Barça’s last trophyless season, the gameplan wasn’t bad, and many argued that the Catalan club suffered from bad luck with results and injuries and should have at least won the league had they had some success in the final game of the season or any other one. This year, another trophyless season, it was embarrassment after embarrassment. From the first game to the last. It’s fitting that Barça began the season with an away loss at San Mamés and then got slapped by Bayern as if they were nothing.
“I ask for forgiveness from the fans. No one is protected in the club. No one”
These players have embarrassed themselves first and then the fans. From Thomas Müller’s volley to Marc-André ter Stegen’s abysmal footwork passing by the enormous gaps on the flanks for Alphonso Davies to run into and the schoolboy mistakes like Sergi Roberto’s failed pass for the second goal, nothing worked, and it was just the epitome of a season full of sadness. Humiliated.
Lionel Messi, Ter Stegen, Sergio Busquets and everyone that has given everything for Barça have been crushed, but they embarrassed themselves first. Seeing these mistakes from the veterans was so hard to watch. I had faith, but I feel shameful after that. These players’ careers must be burned after that. The rebuild starts now more than ever.
Standout performer: Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies had a stellar game, even if he was helped massively by the gaps left by Sergi Roberto and Nélson Semedo on the right. The Canadian speedster still was head and shoulders above everyone, having a say in everything while Barça struggled to shut him up at the back and run at him in the attack.
His highlight of the game is leaving Nélson Semedo for dead to give it to Joshua Kimmich for an easy finish. Davies played so well, and maybe Barça could learn from Bayern’s recruitment with youngsters.
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