Spanish giants Barcelona failed to make the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League 2021-22 for the first time in 20 years after a defeat to German champions Bayern Munich condemned them to third place in Group E .
The 3-0 defeat means that Barca will instead be playing in the Europa League when the European competition returns in early 2022. Barcelona’s defeat in the south of Germany coupled with Benfi’a’s 2-0 victory over Dynamo Kyiv at home means it will be the Portuguese side that will be joining Bayern in the last sixteen of Euro’e’s premier club competition.
Thomas Muller’s clever first-half header from Robert Lewandowski’s cross set Bayern on their way to a comfortable win which condemned Barcelona to third place in the group. Leroy Sané added a thunderous strike before the break and Jamal Musiala’s 62nd-minute tap-in sealed the points for Bayern, who end the group stage with a perfect record.
Though the outcome went against them, the Catalans had made a promising start, putting the German side under pressure initially. Bayern, who had already qualified for the next round and had nothing to lose in this game, pushed forward but miss two very easy chances that were called offside anyway.
Despite not dominating the game, most of the early chances fell to Barcelona but they could not capitalise on them.
In the meantime, news came through that Benfica were already two goals up against Dynamo and Barcelona had to win against Bayern at any cost to secure their place in the knockout rounds. But their cause was not helped much with Jordi Alba withdrawing with a first-half injury — Oscar Mingueza took his place.
Bayern further added to their woes when Muller gave them the lead. Though it appeared that Ronald Araujo had cleared Muller’s header off the line, the referee ruled in the Germans’ favour as Goal Line Technology (GLT) determined that the ball had crossed the line. With this goal, Muller, who extended to eight his record for most goals scored against Barca in UEFA competitions, became the first German player to score 50 UEFA Champions League goals.
A difficult task became near impossible when Leroy Sane fired in a 30-yard thunderbolt shortly before the break, making it 2-0 for the Germans. There was a major let-off for the Spanish when Sane missed an absolute sitter. But on 62 minutes, Musiala tapped in an Alphonso Davies assist to make it near impossible for Barcelona.
Though they tried a lot there was no coming back for Barcelona. Their only hope was miraculous news from Lisbon but that too did not happen as Benfica emerge 2-0 winners and sealed second place in Group E.
In Lisbon, two goals in seven first-half minutes proved enough for Benfica to secure their ticket to the next stage. Roman Yaremchuk netted his first UEFA Champions League goal for the club against the team where he began his career, slotting in to finish a slick move on 16 minutes, before Gilberto pounced on a mistake from Benjamin Verbic to complete the job.