Bayern Munich humiliated Barcelona on Friday evening, emerging 8-2 winners in Lisbon to secure their place in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
An electric start to the game saw both teams score in the opening seven minutes, but it was soon one-way action as Bayern stormed to a 4-1 half-time lead before pushing on in the second half as a pathetic Barcelona collapsed.
While Barca’s goals came from Luis Suarez and Bayern’s David Alaba, the German club saw Thomas Muller and Philippe Coutinho strike twice each as team-mates Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich and Ivan Perisic also netted.
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
Here are five things we learned from the quarter-final:
What we expected… to an extent
Many predicted a Bayern demolition of Barca in Lisbon, and that is indeed what we got. In fact, it was even more comprehensive of a scoreline than could have been anticipated.
The German side were ruthless going forward as they preyed upon a meek, vulnerable Barcelona team.
But while the result connoted Bayern’s brilliance, the game itself revealed more. For all of their attacking prowess, the Bundesliga champions’ defensive faults were exposed with almost every Barca cross and long pass that undermined the Bavarian outfit’s high line. Bayern have more pedigree at this level than any other side left in the competition and they could outscore any of the remaining teams, but in a 90-minute game they are there to be got at.
Whether it’s Manchester City, Lyon, PSG or RB Leipzig, whoever Bayern come up against before this tournament is done will believe they have a genuine chance of beating Flick’s side – and that’s saying something, given the German side netted eight times on Friday. Because the thing is, as fantastic as Munich are, they will not face a team as dispirited or clueless as Barca in the next round or two.
Muller proves doubters wrong again
There is an inelegance to Thomas Muller’s play that is actually rather charming, yet it has also proven the reason why some fans have failed to grasp the quality and efficiency in his boots.
The lanky German’s awkward jump to control the ball ahead of his opener was almost comical, but it belied the technical ability that was to follow as Muller’s flick to Robert Lewandowski preceded a smart, guaranteed finish. Then for his second, the striker showed off his unrivalled poaching instincts to get ahead of Lenglet and poke home a cross.
Muller was criminally undervalued by previous Bayern coach Niko Kovac, but he has proven his immense worth since being reintroduced into the fold by Hansi Flick.
At just 30 years old, and with a style that is not based on speed, Muller has plenty of legs left in him. Plenty of gangly, misleading legs.
Messi deserves better
This is more of a general comment than one specific to this game, for while Lionel Messi was let down by his team-mates against Bayern, it’s not as if he himself was at his stupefying best.
But when one looks at Barcelona this season, and in fact at their state on and off the pitch in recent years, they have undoubtedly done their best ever player – this generation’s best player – a remarkable disservice.
Every year there are mutterings of the Argentine leaving the Catalan club, but they always seem to be fanciful, unfounded. Now, however, it might just be time for Messi to move on.
Yes, there is a romance in his fate being tied to Barcelona, and at 33 years old, is there much point in him relocating? Perhaps not, but seeing the forward in a fresh environment for a new challenge would be welcomed, and probably respected.
Setien’s time is nearly up
In fact, it might already be up. Quique Setien’s inaction as Barca imploded in the first half did not only fail to instil confidence, it was cowardly.
The Barcelona manager seemed to have fewer ideas than his players on how to get a foothold in the fixture, and so he stood on the sideline largely in silence, letting things go from bad to worse.
Antoine Griezmann’s arrival in place of Sergi Roberto at half-time marked the first change of the game, but there should already have been numerous substitutions in the opening 45 minutes.
Setien has seemed out of his depth since his appointment in January, and imagining the Spaniard seeing out his contract – which runs until June 2022 – is a tougher task than Barca had after going 4-1 down in 31 minutes.
Single-leg ties could be the future
Double-legged ties are havens for tactical dynamism, and it could be argued that a one-off game is harmful to the likes of Diego Simeone and his Atletico Madrid side – as their defeat by RB Leipzig suggested – but there has been something thrilling about these single-legged quarter-finals.
The structure of the tie has forced teams to strive for the win from the opening whistle, and we’ve seen some electric action as a result.
While there were dramatic finishes in Leipzig vs Atletico and Atalanta vs PSG, on Friday night the chaos came in the opening moments as both Bayern and Barca struck within the first seven minutes.
The excitement of these single-legged quarter-finals has surely been enough to warrant at least some consideration of keeping them around in the future.