The German champion, Bayern Munich, has thrashed Spanish giant, Barcelona, 3-0 during their opening game of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League for 2021-2022 season.
During the match played at the Camp Nou in Catalonia, the home ground of the Spanish team, Bayern dominated possession and crowed their effort with a goal in the first half of the game through Thomas Muller’s strike.
Shortly after the opener at 34 minutes, Polish striker, Robert Lewandoski, who increased the tally to two after a solo effort, at 56 minutes off the game in the state.
By the end, Barcelona fans were more concerned with a ball being tossed around in a stand behind Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s goal than the game itself.
They were dropped coldly and cruelly into their sad new reality by Bayern Munich, the Germans emerging with a commanding 3-0 win from Camp Nou on Tuesday night in their Champions league opener.
Barcelona failed to muster a single shot on target, a statistic that highlights the disparity between the two teams as if the scoreline alone was not enough.
The hosts began the game with a point to prove, their last outing against Bayern that infamous 8-2 from a little over a year ago. They gritted their teeth, but that can only get you so far.
There was a ‘Koeman out’ banner in one stand, taken down by the club, but it doesn’t feel like it will be a long time before it springs back up again, and more with it.
Perhaps the scoreline was limited to three because Bayern Munich started the game in an uncharacteristically sluggish fashion, not quite clicking in the attack.
They slowly found their rhythm and began to spend increasingly long stretches in Barcelona territory, including in the area, to break down the defense wall mounted by their opponent.
After too many moves broke down just a few yards out from goal, Thomas Muller decided to try something else, and his effort from distance flew in off Eric Garcia’s backside.
It was poor defending from the Spaniard, who has had an error-strewn start to life back in Catalonia. Ter Stegen, wrong-footed by the deflection, bore a look of exasperation long before the ball hit the net.
The opener, although fortunate because of the deflection, saw Bayern move the ball from right to left, toying with Barcelona on a passing carousel reminiscent of the Catalans in their Pep Guardiola heyday.
Koeman, arms crossed on the sideline, didn’t have much choice with his starting line-up because of the team’s spate of injuries. He opted for a cautious 5-3-2 system, perhaps with the 8-2 thrashing in mind.
At home, at the Camp Nou, it has been many, many years since Barcelona has played so defensively. Many years too that they have started a game so sure they were levels below their opponents.
By the time the game finished it was boys against men, quite literally, with Koeman throwing on Alejandro Balde, Gavi, Yusuf Demir, and Oscar Mingueza, to join Pedri and Ronald Araujo, all of whom are 22 and under.
That’s the one area of hope for the club, and his willingness to use La Masia talents is one of the few reasons Koeman has retained his position. Barcelona was better after the substitutes came on, with Gavi, in particular, injecting some fight into a weak performance.
Philippe Coutinho, back after months out injured, was also bright on his return and offered some sparks that hint he can start over at the club, and become an important player this season.