If Barcelona thought that they had a chance of beating Bayern Munich in their Champions League quarter-final tie on Friday, that notion was dispelled within the first few minutes.
That’s all it took for Thomas Muller to open the scoring for the Bavarians, and the signs were already ominous given how easily the Bundesliga side had carved open the Catalans’ back line.
A spectacular own goal from David Alaba briefly drew Barcelona level, and had Lionel Messi’s speculative cross gone in rather than hitting the post at 1-1, there’s a small, nay minuscule, chance that the game might’ve taken on a different path.There’s little doubt Bayern would’ve won, but perhaps not as comprehensively as they did.
An astonishing eventual final scoreline of 8-2 is scarcely believable at this level of competition. It just doesn’t happen.
Sometimes a minnow will be drawn against a European heavyweight and you might see the odd lopsided scoreline, but not with two teams at this level.
Bayern were everything Barcelona were not. Sharp, inventive, hard-working… It’s as if Quique Setien’s side had resigned themselves to getting beaten and the coach too.
He sat on the sidelines not uttering a word, save for the odd muttering to himself. Completely out of his depth.
He was apparently in a field talking to cows when he received the call from Barcelona to replace Ernesto Valverde, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he was back with the bovines before the weekend is out.
In truth, he shouldn’t be the only casualty of this embarrassment, and in actual fact, the defeat and the manner of it might actually turn out to be a blessing in the longer term.
For far too long now, certain senior players at the Camp Nou have been coasting through games.
Even if they’ve had a drop off in form, they’ve kept their places. Now, there’s no excuse.
It would still take a brave coach to come into that Barcelona dressing room and give them a dressing down, but that’s precisely how Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique won the respect of their squads and went on to bring trebles to the club.
Barcelona are now as far away from that as can be, and if they’re not careful, Lionel Messi’s final years at the club will be a highlights reel of disaster after disaster.
Whether it causes short-term pain or not, it’s time for a big clear out at Barcelona…. and no one should be immune.