Thomas Müller (right) scored his seventh Champions League goal against Barcelona, at least two more than any other player
Goals from Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski decided a match between the big two in Champions League Group E when Bayern Munich won a sovereign opening game in Barcelona.
The German master controlled the game. Muller scored his seventh career goal against Barca after removing Eric Garcia’s goal in the first half.
Lewandowski scored his 74th Champions League goal into the net with a typical predatory finish after Jamal Musiala’s shot bounced off the post.
His 75th came late in the game when he again showed his talent with a whip strike in front of goal after Serge Gnabry’s shot bounced off the post and fell in the penalty area.
Playing their first Champions League since Talisman Lionel Messi left, Barca have been flat and offered little without scoring a single shot on goal.
The Catalans have now lost three home games in a row in a European competition for the first time in their history.
They finished the game with four teenagers on the court, which brought in at least some urgency and raised a muted crowd of just under 40,000 due to Covid-19 restrictions.
But they were still thoroughly outclassed and by a Bayern team that was not even in top form.
The German team lead the group with the other game between Benfica and Dinamo Kiev 0-0.
“We are what we are, that is the reality”
It has now been 13 months since Bayern ruthlessly exposed the growing frailty in the heart of Barcelona. watch out for them in one of the most insightful knockout games in the Champions League of recent times.
Little did Barca know that things would only get worse in the months that followed as a dangerous financial situation led to Messi’s departure to Paris St-Germain this summer.
They now look like a bowl of a once great team – sleepwalking through the movements and prone to being easily brushed aside on either side with a plan and talent, or a world class playing in third gear like Bayern did here .
Messi started in the front with Luis Suarez in their 8-2 loss in 2020. On Wednesday, Barca paired two former Premier League failures at Memphis Depay and Luuk de Jong, and that was mainly because ex-Middlesbrough striker Martin Braithwaite is injured.
Not that it mattered as Bayern cut supplies, let the home strikers drift, got down to the pressing and patiently dismantling a defense that was aimed at a three but was pushed to a five more often.
“It is what it is,” said Gerard Pique, one of the three center-backs. “We are what we are, that is reality.”
Defense colleague Garcia was more defiant: “I think the result is unfair. The first goal was deflected from me, the second goal fell back from the post and fell to Lewandowski.
“I don’t think that with such a big result we should have lost.
“If we didn’t hold the ball enough in midfield, at the end of the day we would have played Bayern – maybe the best team in Europe. We knew it was going to be really tough.”
Bayern are in their own transition phase. The immediate solution for an outgoing coach and aging sections of their squad is to recruit the best from the next domestic challenger, RB Leipzig.
With the new boss Julian Nagelsmann, they have a man whose ideals make it easy to hand over his successor Hansi Flick.
The 34-year-old has the talent and the tools to make Bayern a real challenger for the Champions League this season. When you’re in third gear, do you imagine when you hit fifth?
You are now unbeaten in 19 European away games – a record series in all European competitions – and will only get better.
As for Barca, they are faltering and it’s hard to see how they get back on track. Second place in Group E is far from certain.
Player of the game
20thRoberto21de Jong16Gonzalez Lopez18thAlba
17thde Jong9Peel off
- 1Ter Stegen
- 24GarciaReplaced byMinguezaat 66 ‘protocol
- 5BusquetsReplaced byPaez Gaviriaat 59 ‘protocolBooked at 82 minutes
- 20thRobertoReplaced byironat 59 ‘protocol
- 21de Jong
- 16Gonzalez Lopez
- 18thAlbaReplaced byBucket Martinezat 74 ‘protocol
- 17thde JongReplaced byCoutinhoat 66 ‘protocol
- 9Peel off
- 6thPuig Martí
- 13thMurara Neto
- 26thPeña Sotorres
- 28González Iglesias
- 30thPaez Gaviria
- 31Bucket Martinez
42she had to25thMüller10Reasonable
- 5last nameReplaced byHernándezat 66 ‘protocol
- 2UpamecanoBooked at 78 minutes
- 4thCloseReplaced byStanisicat 82 ‘protocol
- 6thKimmichBooked at 5 minutes
- 42she had toReplaced byGnabryat 70 ‘protocol
- 25thMüllerReplaced bySabitzerat 82 ‘protocol
- 10ReasonableReplaced byComanat 82 ‘protocol
Referee: Michael Oliver
Number of participants: 39,737
Match ends, Barcelona 0, FC Bayern Munich 3.
Second half ends, Barcelona 0, FC Bayern Munich 3.
Attempt failed. Joshua Kimmich (FC Bayern München) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Supported by Kingsley Coman.
Joshua Kimmich (FC Bayern Munich) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona).
Foul by Marcel Sabitzer (FC Bayern Munich).
Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt failed. Robert Lewandowski (FC Bayern Munich) headed from the center of the box, but the ball missed to the left. Assisted by Joshua Kimmich with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Bayern Munich. Granted by Gerard Piqué.
Attempt failed. Serge Gnabry (FC Bayern Munich) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Supported by Joshua Kimmich.
Target! Barcelona 0, FC Bayern Munich 3. Robert Lewandowski (FC Bayern Munich) hits with his left foot from the center of the box, top right.
Serge Gnabry (FC Bayern Munich) hits the right post with a right footed shot from the center of the box. Supported by Kingsley Coman.
Attempt failed. Marcel Sabitzer (FC Bayern Munich) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box misses just wide. Supported by Serge Gnabry.
Dayot Upamecano (FC Bayern Munich) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Gavi (Barcelona).
Substitution, FC Bayern Munich. Josip Stanisic replaces Niklas Süle.
Substitution for FC Bayern Munich. Kingsley Coman replaces Leroy Sané.
Substitution, FC Bayern Munich. Marcel Sabitzer replaces Thomas Müller.
Gavi (Barcelona) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Leon Goretzka (FC Bayern Munich) wins a free kick in the defensive half.