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'Best team in the world'? Historically bad Barcelona humiliated by Bayern Munich

5:12 AM SGT 15/8/20
Lionel Messi Quique Setien Barcelona Bayern Munich
Arturo Vidal claimed on the eve of the Champions League semi-final that the Blaugrana were still top dogs but they were routed by the Bavarians

With no second leg to fall apart in because of the coronavirus pandemic, Barcelona simply started off as if this were Rome or Anfield, and got worse from there.

The memories of those infamous Champions League capitulations came flooding back as Thomas Muller fired Bayern Munich ahead in Lisbon after just three minutes and four seconds.

David Alaba’s own goal levelled the scores instantly but then the relentless Bavarians scored again, and again and again and again.

The final score was an embarrassing 8-2 to Bayern but, if anything, it was kind on the Catalans.

The worst thing about this shocking quarter-final defeat wasn’t just how Barcelona kept giving up their once-prized possession; how blunt they looked in attack despite boasting the best player that ever lived; how Sergi Roberto gave the ball away so weakly for the second goal; how limply Clement Lenglet was bypassed by Thomas Muller for the fourth; how patently unfit Luis Suarez was; how Semedo was turned into stone by Alphonso Davies; how Barca’s record signing Philippe Coutinho scored two and set one up for Bayern; or any of the many other obvious flaws on display.

No. The worst thing about this global humiliation was how grimly and utterly predictable it all was.

Unless you happen to be Arturo Vidal, quite possibly the one man on earth who thought that this game would go differently.

“They have a lot of confidence but they're not playing against a Bundesliga team on Friday, they're up against Barcelona, the best team in the world,” said the Chilean on Thursday, before spending 90 minutes shovelling humble pie after humble pie down his throat. 

His pre-match comments raised eyebrows on Thursday; they look plain ridiculous now.

Barcelona became the first team to concede four goals in the first half of a Champions League knockout match since Porto, who shipped five against Bayern Munich, in April 2015.

This Barcelona team became the first to concede five goals in a European match since 1976, when they lost 5-4 to Nevski Sofia in the UEFA Cup.

The Barcelona team became the first to concede seven goals in any competition since 1949 against Valencia; and the first to ship eight since being routed by Sevilla in 1946.

It was the 7-0 aggregate defeat by Bayern in the 2013 semi-finals all over again and could have been worse, if Bayern’s finishing was sharper and their defending better.

After all, one of Barca's goals came courtesy of their opponents, with David Alaba turning in Jordi Alba’s cross to level the game early on, and Jerome Boateng nearly pulled off a remix of his 2015 tumble as Suarez sent him for a hotdog en route to scoring the Catalans' second.

However, Barcelona’s defensive ineptitude was on a whole other level. It would have sent shockwaves through the game, if Barcelona hadn’t already displayed such incompetence against Liverpool last season, when they were hammered 4-0 at Anfield.

“If we don’t change we will not beat Napoli,” worried Lionel Messi after Barcelona threw away La Liga, despite leading Real Madrid before the coronavirus stoppage.

Maybe he was hoping ineffective and hapless coach Quique Setien would be axed, but it would have made no difference. This ageing Barcelona squad is largely ready for the glue factory.

Many Barcelona players will be wishing they had gone out against the Italians, in a way, it would have been kinder than having their obvious defects exploited ruthlessly by Hansi Flick’s side.

Bayern, who won 26 of their previous 27 competitive games, are the best team in Europe and proved it time and again in Lisbon.

Ex-Barca midfielder Thiago Alcantara pulled the strings for Bayern and showed off with a couple of no-look passes, including one which led to Serge Gnabry’s goal.

It was a reminder of the Blaugrana's failures in the transfer market, as was the fact that all three of their most expensive players started on the bench – Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele on Barca's; and Coutinho on Bayern’s.

His introduction as a substitute late in the second half, to play against them in the Champions League, beggared belief.

The Brazilian scored two and set one up to rub salt into the Catalans' gaping wounds, which could take years to heal.

The best team in the world? This is a historically bad Barcelona.