LISBON (AFP) – A merciless Bayern Munich inflicted a humiliating, record defeat on Barcelona early yesterday, recording a scarcely believable 8-2 victory in their Champions League quarter-final in Lisbon to leave Lionel Messi forlorn and surely hastening in the end of an era in Catalonia.
Thomas Mueller scored twice either side of goals from Ivan Perisic and Serge Gnabry in a stunning opening 31 minutes at an empty Estadio da Luz, with a David Alaba own-goal having briefly brought Barcelona back level.
Luis Suarez pulled it back to 4-2 at one point in the second half, but Barcelona then caved in, with Joshua Kimmich getting Bayern’s fifth before three more goals in the final stages, one for the prolific Robert Lewandowski and two for substitute Philippe Coutinho.
That was the really humiliating part for the beaten side, with Coutinho on loan in Bavaria from Barcelona, who spent EUR160 million on signing the Brazilian in 2018 but never got the best out of him.
“For someone like Philippe to come on and score two goals shows what quality we have in the squad,” said Bayern forward Thomas Mueller.
It is Barcelona’s worst European defeat and the worst of Messi’s career. The game was eerily reminiscent of Germany’s 7-1 destruction of Brazil in the 2014 World Cup, a game in which Mueller also played and scored.
Germany went on to win that World Cup and Bayern look a good bet to win this Champions League, although they will surely face a sterner test in the semi-final regardless of whether it is against Manchester City or Lyon.
“In the 7-1 win in Brazil we didn’t have the same amount of control. Yes we were good but tonight the way we dominated the game was brutal,” said Mueller.
This was Bayern’s 19th consecutive victory in all competitions, and a 28th game unbeaten for Hansi Flick’s side. They have now scored 39 goals in nine Champions League outings this season.
“We knew it is never easy against Barcelona, but this is an unbelievable result,” said Kimmich. “It’s hard to comprehend.”
But the story of this game is Barcelona’s remarkable capitulation and the question is what happens to them now.
Messi was 27 when they last won the Champions League in 2015. He is 33 now and this game may make up his mind that he needs to finally leave the Camp Nou if he is to win it again.
Barca have just about been here before: They were torn apart by Bayern in the 2013 semi-finals, losing 7-0 on aggregate, but this was eight goals in 90 minutes.
And with an ageing team featuring six players aged 31 or older, this has to be the end of an era.
“I don’t know how to label it,” said Gerard Pique.
“The club needs changes. I’m not talking about the level of the players or coach, but structurally the club needs all sorts of changes.”
Coach Quique Setien will certainly not survive. His team, having already come second to Real Madrid in La Liga, simply could not cope with Bayern’s pressing.