Inter Milan’s demolition of Viktoria Plzen in the early kickoff sealed Barcelona’s fate before the Catalans’ game kicked off at Spotify Camp Nou.
The Blaugranas were set to play in the Europa League while Bayern Munich had sealed a table-top finish after the Nerrazzuri’ss win. Thus, the result in Catalonia bore little importance.
One still expected Xavi’s men to play for pride and try to settle their score with the Bavarians on the night. However, what followed was a sequence of events that went straight downhill.
Xavi’s lineup on the night was horrendously thought out on the night. Playing one of the best sides in Europe, the manager deployed a back four of Hector Bellerin, Jules Kounde, Marcos Alonso and Alex Balde.
In midfield, he dropped Gavi for Franck Kessie, with Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Sergio Busquets completing the department. Robert Lewandowski and Ousmane Dembele completed the starting roster.
Right from the opening whistle, Barcelona’s vehicle seemed to have a loose tire. The Azulgranas did not seem motivated to any extent, and the lack of energy was evident.
Ten minutes into the game, the visitors took the lead via Sadio Mane. The goal came from a quick counter-attack that saw Serge Gnabry find Mane inside the Catalan box.
Ter Stegen made a brave charge towards the forward, but the former Liverpool man kept his cool and lofted the ball delicately into the net.
Despite going a goal down, Barcelona’s game had no sense of urgency. The defence continued to be worryingly fragile while a part of the midfield was inexistent. Unsurprisingly, the second goal of the game also came for the visitors.
In the 31st minute, Gnabry dribbled through the Blaugrana defence and found Eric Maxim Chuopo Moting, who needed just one touch before executing a clean finish through the legs of ter Stegen.
The next big event in the half came in the 44th minute when Lewandowski was taken down in the box by Matthijs de Ligt. While initially signalled a penalty, VAR confirmed that the Dutchman touched the ball first. The referee immediately overturned his decision, and the hosts were back to square one.
Barcelona began the second half with more intent and created a few half-chances in the opening minutes. However, neither Lewandowski nor Busquets could finish their chances.
Gnabry made it three for Bayern with a lovely curler from the left side but the goal was ruled out for offside. Minutes later, Xavi replaced Busquets and Pedri with Ferran Torres and Raphinha.
Just when it seemed like the hosts were getting some steam in their attack, the manager made two changes again. In the 66th minute, Ansu Fati and Eric Garcia came on for Dembele and Kounde, respectively.
The hosts showed some promise and attacking intent at the 70-minute mark but could not be clinical enough to pull one back.
Ansu Fati came the closest with his great run through the Bavarian defence, followed by a poor shot. Xavi’s final change on the night was Pablo Torre for Lewy in the 82nd minute, who tried to show some initiative but it was too little too late.\
To add insult to injury, in the final seconds of stoppage time, Bayern Munich added a third goal to entirely shell-shock the Catalans. Benjamin Pavard slotted home as Serge Gnabry’s scuffed shot from a corner fell to the Frenchman to make it 3-0.
Barcelona’s miserable record against Bayern continued, and now they must try and somehow refocus to try and salvage what remains of their season.
The Blaugranas now have one last UCL game against Viktoria Plzen before beginning their Europa League campaign. Needless to say, this result will raise questions about Xavi’s stewardship and rightfully so.