The rash is less painful, but the difference may be even greater. A year after the historic 8-2, Barcelona lost again to Bayern Munich. 0-3 this time. Robert Lewandoski did most of the work.
Your name will be Ronald Koeman. Then you give up your job as a Dutch national coach for an adventure at the club of your dreams, you see Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann leave in Barcelona in less than a year and you get… Memphis Depay and Luuk de Young. Go Holland go.
You read it: things have changed in Catalonia since the last clash with Bayern – the historic 8-2 in the summer of 2020. Koeman himself has also implemented a number of drastic changes since his arrival.
For example, the 4-3-3, which has been used for years by every team from top to bottom at Barcelona, is no longer sacred under his rule. Against Bayern, the Dutchman started again in a 3-5-2. Louis van Gaal may say that with a 3-5-2 you can bring very attacking and distinctive football, but when Bayern had the ball on Tuesday evening – quite often – Barça was still defending with five players in a line. They don’t like to see that at Camp Nou.
The time that Barcelona had at least sixty percent of the ball against every team is behind us anyway. What stood out on Tuesday was the verticality in Barcelona’s play when it did have the ball. Instead of tapping the leather endlessly on the opponent’s half and looking for a hole, the ball now went to strikers Depay and De Jong in less than three passes. Hoping they could hurt the Bayern defense on the counterattack. In vain. The Dutch received far too little support. It is remarkable how many players kept Barcelona behind the ball. Haven’t processed the trauma of the 8-2 yet?
However, this match was different from last summer. Barcelona was not blown away this time. For a long time it even looked like Barça would make it to halftime with a 0-0. Until minute 33. After a good combination from the left, Thomas Müller got far too much space on the edge of the sixteen. His shot went past Ter Stegen through Eric Garcia’s back. Yet one defender too many drafted.
Barca tried after the break, but never gave the impression that they could threaten Bayern again. The game was over ten minutes into the second half. Again the Germans were given too much space on the edge of the sixteen. Davies’ shot was blocked, Musiala’s rebound hit the post and so Lewandowski pushed the ball in on the third attempt. Who else?
Eighteen games scored in a row
Koeman’s substitutions only made it clearer how deep this has fallen for Barcelona. In ninety minutes, the home team did not kick a single ball between the posts. Experienced hands Roberto and Busquets were pulled over on the hour for Demir and Gavi, aged eighteen and seventeen respectively. Good football players, yes. But you can’t expect those guys to straighten out a deficit against Bayern Munich. On the contrary, Lewandowski made it 3-0 with his second of the evening. For the Pole it was already the eighteenth game in a row in which he scored for Bayern. They once had a player on the other side who recorded such figures. Would they soon be watching Club Brugge-PSG in Barcelona?
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