This can’t have been how they drew it up. When FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta launched a wheeling-and-dealing, lever-pulling spending spree in the summer transfer window — the €50mpoaching of Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski the centerpiece of it all — the idea was to punch a quick ticket back to the mountaintop of Europe’s finest.
Instead, Barça are staring down the barrel of a third straight Champions League exit at the hands of their Bayern demons — with a long, dark, uncertain road ahead.
Laporta struck as upbeat a tone as he could muster after the game.
“Bayern are a well-constructed team,” he said (via UEFA, as captured by @iMiaSanMia). “Very powerful. I’d say that they are the best or one of the best in Europe. It was really tough playing them when we knew we were already knocked out.”
In retrospect, clawing out a draw two weeks ago against Inter Milan only made the torture that much more drawn out. Two weeks for Barça’s hopes to dangle on a string, alive but only just, as if the Fates wanted only to toy with them a little bit longer. Inter would have had to drop points against Viktoria Plzeň — which of course they didn’t, and which of course Barcelona had to watch happen in the hour before their own game.
In short, insert-Matrix-not-like-this-gif:
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“Watching Inter (winning) was pure torture because we were hoping for the miracle which never came,” Laporta concluded, grimly.
So it is: Europa League once more for the second half of the season. Two straight seasons of a Champions League draw pitting them in a group with Bayern after Bayern’s infamous 8-2 quarterfinal win in Lisbon. Two straight seasons of getting back-to-back blankings: 3-0, 3-0, 2-0, 3-0. And a financial and competitive roadmap that looks further than ever from glory.
Want more analysis of the game? How did Nagelsmann nullify Xavi and which players stood out? Then why not check out our postgame podcast? Listen to it below or on Spotify.
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