Bayern Munich showed Barcelona exactly how sad life will be without Lionel Messi on Tuesday when they handed the Spanish team their first loss since the star forward’s departure.
Thomas Müller scored one goal and Robert Lewandowski added two more to help Bayern achieve a 3-0 victory at the Camp Nou in their first Champions League game.
Müller’s goal in the 34th minute brought his career tally to seven goals against Barcelona, including the two he scored in the 8-2 Bayern handed out to Barcelona the last time they met in August 2020.
Without Messi to trust as they had for years, Barcelona ran scared from the start as they focused on shielding themselves from another embarrassing defeat.
The final score concealed the total dominance of the Bundesliga powerhouse. Julian Nagelsmann’s team turned Barcelona’s once great attacking monster into a nervous group huddled in its own area.
Lewandowski took advantage of Bayern’s total control with goals in the 56th and 85th minute, both times rebounding from shots that went off the post to the striker.
“We give away little behind,” Müller said. “Looking ahead, we could have scored one or two more. It’s really fun to play here, the guys enjoyed it.”
Even with his fans back at Camp Nou, which were at 40% capacity, for the first time in the Champions League since the start of the pandemic, he could not muster a better performance from the local squad.
Barcelona had two wins and a draw in their previous three games, all in the Spanish league, which they had played this season after their miserable finances had prevented them from giving up Messi.
“We wish we had competed better, but this is what we have now,” Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said. “Can’t complain about our attitude, we did our best. But there is a difference in talent and a difference between a team that has played together for a long time and our team with many young players. It is difficult to accept, but we have to keep working ”.
After being undefeated in 38 consecutive Champions League home games until last year, Barcelona have lost three in a row. Bayern, meanwhile, increased their unbeaten record in the competition to 19 matches in a row.
Also in Group E, Benfica drew 0-0 at Dynamo Kyiv.
When Bayern defeated Barcelona in the 2020 Champions League quarterfinals, Barcelona could count on Messi, Luis Suárez and Antoine Griezmann. They all left because the club could not pay their salary.
Barcelona’s attack is now led by Memphis Depay, one of the few bright spots for the club this season. He was joined by newcomer Luuk de Jong, who made his debut after a last-minute play from Sevilla.
However, neither of them was able to receive a ball in scoring position from their teammates.
Barcelona fell on defense in the back of their area and paid for it when Müller was left alone outside the area. His uncontested shot deflected Eric García, leaving Marc-Andre Ter Stegen unable to save.
Barcelona did not produce a shot on goal in more than 90 minutes. The closest he came to getting Manuel Neuer to work was a desperate attempt by Sergio Busquets from long range that was deflected shortly before Lewandowski doubled the lead when he bounced off a shot from Jamal Musiala.
Seeing that defeat was assured, Koeman gave the debut in the Champions League to Yusuf Demir, 18, and Gavi, 17. A hamstring problem that forced Jordi Alba to leave allowed Alejandro Balde, 18-year-old made his competitive debut.
Philippe Coutinho came on as a late substitute in his first game for Barcelona since a left knee injury suffered in December.
A loss of possession by Demir led to Lewandowski’s double when he was again left alone to unleash a Serge Gnabry shot that went off the post.
“We came to win this match and we knew we had to show Barcelona respect,” Lewandowski said. “When you play at the Camp Nou against them they are always dangerous. But we had this game under control and we showed that we were here for the three points ”.