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27 Oct, 2022 08:50

Spanish giants suffer fresh European embarrassment

Barcelona are destined for the Europa League for a second season running
Spanish giants suffer fresh European embarrassment

Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez has resigned himself to the fact that his team are not on the same level as continental heavyweights such as Bayern Munich after the Bavarians beat them 3-0 at Camp Nou in the Champions League. 

The Catalans already knew their fate before kick-off on Wednesday night, with Inter Milan’s 4-0 home win over Viktoria Plzen elsewhere in Group C meaning Barcelona stood no chance of reaching the knockout stages and would be sentenced to the second-tier UEFA Europa League for a second season running. 

Against the German champions, Barca were playing for pride but were outmatched by a Bayern side that has beaten them six times in recent years.

“Today we have not reached their level, they have been better,” Xavi confessed.

“In Munich it was us, but today they have been better, more intense. The elimination affected us psychologically. Tomorrow, we train and think about La Liga.

“There were high expectations, we had a difficult group. Everything possible happened to us. It has been very cruel. We didn’t compete well today.”

“I understand that from the outside there is talk of failure, but inside we do different analyses,” Xavi conceded.

“The first thing is our mistakes, that we have not been at the level due to effectiveness or errors. The way we went out of the competition, waiting for a game to finish, is also cruel. If we analyze the other games, I think we deserved more.”

Barca’s last win against the Bundesliga giants was a 3-0 victory in 2015 that helped them advance to the final that year, when they last lifted the trophy.

But while the likes of bitter rivals Real Madrid have won the Champions League four times since then, and Bayern once in 2020 when they thrashed Barca 8-2 in the quarterfinals, this most recent loss was another wake-up call for Barca.

Despite activating a series of ‘economic levers’ and spending over €150 million ($151 million) on new players last summer, they are clearly still some way off the returning to the European elite.

It was a bad night for Spain on the continent in general, as Atletico Madrid joined Barca and Sevilla in failing to advance out of the group.

Atletico, who were 2014 and 2016 finalists, will look towards the Europa League after a dramatic 2-2 draw against Bayer Leverkusen in Madrid.

The hosts missed a 99th-minute penalty and hit a rebound against the crossbar, before another effort was accidentally saved by penalty taker Yannick Carrasco’s heels. 

With Atleti in third place in the group on five points and Leverkusen fourth on four, nothing is certain for Diego Simeone’s men, who still have work to do against Porto next week while Leverkusen face Club Brugge.

In Belgium, overperforming Group B leaders Brugge, who have arguably been the biggest surprise of the competition, lost 4-0 at home to Porto.

In London, Tottenham Hotspur still lead Group D after drawing 1-1 with Sporting Lisbon and improving their tally to eight points.

The Portuguese club are second on seven points, but with Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt third on seven points and fourth place Marseille on six, there is still everything to play for.

Group A is already decided, and the two leaders Napoli and Liverpool both notched 3-0 wins on Wednesday.

The Italians achieved theirs at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona against Rangers, and the Merseysiders at Ajax’s expense at the Johan Cruyff Arena.