Two goals from Robert Lewandowski and one from Thomas Muller propelled Bayern Munich to a 3-0 victory at Barcelona in their opening Champions League game on Tuesday in another brutal demonstration of the gulf in class between the two sides.
Muller gave Bayern the lead in the 34th minute with a strike from outside the area which deflected off Barca defender Eric Garcia to confound goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Lewandowski struck the German champions’ second in the 54th, tapping into the net from close range on the rebound after Jamal Musiala had hit the post as Bayern made a rampant start following the interval, hemming their hosts into their own half.
The Polish striker twisted the knife further into Barcelona by scoring again in the 85th, collecting the ball in the area after another shot had come back off the post and tormenting the defense before calmly beating Ter Stegen in the Group E clash.
The scoreline was not quite as damning for Barca as the 8-2 drubbing Bayern gave them in the quarterfinals two campaigns ago but the performance was just as hopeless as they were routinely dispossessed and struggled to cope with the visitors’ intensity.
Barca made a promising start in their first Champions League game in front of supporters at the Camp Nou since December 2019, although while the crowd was limited to 40,000 due to coronavirus restrictions there were fewer fans in attendance owing to a lack of appetite for the post-Lionel Messi era.
But Bayern soon showed their superiority and it took a strong hand from Ter Stegen to prevent Leroy Sane giving the Germans the lead, while Gerard Pique had to slide across the ground to block a goal-bound strike from Musiala.
Barcelona’s only real attempt on goal in the first half came from a free kick, defender Ronald Araujo meeting Memphis Depay’s cross and heading just over the bar.
Bayern finally took the lead their play merited through Muller, who scored twice in the 8-2 hammering of Barca in Lisbon and has now netted seven times versus the Catalans in Europe’s top competition.
Loud boos could be heard at halftime but things got more desperate for the hosts after the break and by the end of the game Barca fans were sarcastically applauding the team whenever they managed to recover the ball, resigned to their fate.
Lewandowski extended his scoring streak in all club competitions to 18 matches. For Muller, it was his 49th goal in Champions League competition with seven of those versus Barcelona. No other player has scored more goals in the competition against Barcelona than him.
Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said the gulf in talent on the field was apparent and pointed out that his side was playing without injured stars like Sergio Aguero, Ousmane Dembele, and Ansu Fati.
“I can’t complain about the team’s attitude, but there’s a quality difference. One team that have played together for a long time [against] us, with a lot of young players who in two, three years will be better. It’s really difficult to accept, but we hope to improve things and to get people back from injuries. There are players aged 19, 20. If you compare that with what Bayern have, it’s a huge difference. The difference will get smaller in time.”