Bayern Munich 8 Barcelona 2
Football, Bloody hell!
Barcelona was the venue, Bayern Munich the vanquished on that memorable night in 1999 when Alex Ferguson greeted Manchester United’s last-minute Champions League victory with that famous phrase.
Last night in Lisbon, we found ourselves repeating those lines as Barcelona were blown away by a devastating display of pace, power, and precision from Bayern, who took barely half-an-hour to race into a 4-1 lead and by the end had become the first team to put seven goals past Barca since Valancia in 1949 and ended up with eight.
We anticipated a modern classic, given the pedigree of these two clubs and the pathways that had drawn them together at an unfortunately premature stage, and we were not to be disappointed.
But instead of a close-run game that showcased the talents of opposing superstars Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski, this turned into a brutal, one-sided destruction of a once-great side.
As brilliant as Bayern were, Barcelona were truly, deeply awful. When the Germans beat Spurs 7-2 in December, with three late goals, it effectively ended the Tottenham careers of two or three players and spelled the beginning of the end for Mauricio Pochettino.
This defeat will surely mean Quique Setien will be gone soon, and some of those senior players who had led Barcelona to such heights will depart the Nou Camp too. Messi has been openly critical of the club’s hierarchy and has contemplated his own future. Now would be as good a time as any for one of Europe’s big clubs to make a move.
But there is no more powerful club on the planet than Bayern Munich, whose run since that win over Spurs is now 27 victories from 28 games, with one draw. And none will live as long in the memory as this one, where we we marvelled at the speed of Alphonso Davies, the guile of Serge Gnabry, a two-goal cameo from Philippe Coutinho — on loan from Barcelona, of all teams.
But most of all it was the mastery of Thomas Muller, who took centre stage with a performance that showcased his unique talents.
The Germany striker has now scored 199 goals for Bayern, and his first showed why he is so good.
He got the game off to a flying start, almost literally, with just over three minutes gone. Ivan Perisic crossed from the left, Muller feinted to hit a flying volley but instead crafted a cushioned pass to Lewandowski, who returned the favour and allowed his strike partner to guide a shot into the far corner of goal.
Setien set up his side to counter attack, with Antoine Griezeman kept back until half-time and Luis Suarez on his own up front, with Messi supporting from deep on the right. The Uruguayan was foiled by the feet of Manuel Neuer before Barcelona equalised in the seventh minute, with Bayern defender David Alaba hooking the ball into his own net as he tried to cut out a Jordi Alba cross.
But it was soon 4-1. Perisic cut in from the left and arrowed a shot that flew off the toe of Ter Stegen and into the net. Gnabry, destroyer-in-chief of Spurs and Chelsea in earlier rounds, ran on to a clever flick and drilled a low volley into the net. And whenJoshua Kimmich crossed from the right, Muller got ahead of Clement Lenglet to flick home at the near post.
Barcelona were shocked — we all were.
There was a brief rally early in the second half. Messi released Alba, his cross was collected by Suarez and the ball drilled home. But it was a deceptively brief comeback, as Barcelona proceeded to give up without a fight. Davies danced down the byline and cut ball back for Kimmich to drill home the fifth goal.
Lewandowski finally got his reward for a workmanlike display when he headed home a cross from Coutinho, on as a late substitute. And the Brazilian made it even more painful for his parent club with two goals in the final five minutes, scoring from close range each time and unable to celebrate, partly out of respect for Barcelona, and perhaps with a sense of embarrassment for his team-mates.
Football? Bloody hell.
BARCELONA: Ter Stegen 7; Semedo 6, Pique 6, Lenglet 5, Alba 6; Sergi Roberto 5 (Griezeman 46), Vidal 5, Busquets 5 (Ansu Fati 70), De Jong 5: Messi 6, Suarez 6.
BAYERN MUNICH: 4-2-3-1 Neuer 7; Kimmich 7, Boateng 6 (Sule 76), Alaba 6, Davies 8 (Hernandez 84) ; Thiago Alcantara 7, Goretzka 7 (Toliso 84); Gnabry 8 (Couthinho 76), Muller 9, Perisic 7 (Coman 67); Lewandowski 7.
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia).