Bayern Munich beat Barcelona 3-0 at Camp Nou on Wednesday night to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages as group winners.
Xavi Hernandez’s side entered the game knowing they already had no chance of reaching the knockout stages for the second straight year after Inter Milan beat Viktoria Plzen 4-0 in the first window Monday.
– Marsden: Are there any silver linings on Barca’s UCL exit?
– Each team’s journey to the Champions League Round of 16
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, more (US)
First-half goals from Sadio Mane and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting lifted Bayern to top spot in Group C on 15 points with one game to play, while Inter Milan finished second. Barcelona, who will finish third regardless of final day results, are heading to the Europa League.
“We have to face our new reality, today we didn’t even have the level to compete,” Xavi said after the game. “I think today the psychological side weighed on us, going into the game knowing that we were already out.
“We started the season with very high expectations, but found ourselves in a very complicated group and we failed to be at the level necessary to compete with them. It’s a huge disappointment.”
Bayern took the lead with an early goal from Mane, who ran on an accurate ball from Serge Gnabry, pushed Barca’s Hector Bellerin away and cleverly flicked the ball past a pressed Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Choupo-Moting doubled the visitors’ lead in the 30th minute, finishing at a tight angle between Ter Stegen’s legs after being played with another smart ball from Gnabry.
Barca looked set to halve the deficit from the penalty spot just before the break, but referee Anthony Taylor overturned his call for a foul in the box on Robert Lewandowski after a visit to the pitch monitor showed that the Polish striker had entered his defender. to initiate contact.
Gnabry continued his torrid night by scoring a third for Bayern, but his well-shot shot for the left side of the penalty area was ruled out for a marginal offside in the build-up.
With the game almost over, substitute Benjamin Pavard scored at the far post after Gnabry’s cross shot fell nicely on him for Bayern’s last goal of the night.
“The way we won gives us a lot of energy. I don’t think Barca expected us to be so bold. But you have to when you play against Barcelona,” the coach said. Bayern’s Julian Nagelsmann after the game. “We scored two great goals and added a third at the end. We defended with so much passion. The team made a statement tonight.”
Since last winning the Champions League title in 2015, Barca have only reached the semi-finals once, in 2019. They lost 8-2 to Bayern in the quarters finals 2020, were knocked out in the Round of 16 by PSG in 2021, and failed to progress through the group stage in the last two editions.
Last year, Barca’s exit from the group stage came after Lionel Messi’s departure to Paris and the financial crisis led to the resignation of the club’s entire board.
This season, however, after the big signings of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde, a better result was expected.
They have won just one of their five games in the group so far and will enter the second-tier Europa League after finishing third in the group for the second consecutive year.