Goals from Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski settled a battle of the big two in Champions League Group E as Bayern Munich claimed a dominant opening-game victory at Barcelona.
The German champions controlled the game, with Muller scoring his seventh career goal against Barca courtesy of a first-half effort that found the net off Eric Garcia’s back.
Lewandowski made sure of the win with a typical predatory finish, poking his 74th Champions League goal into an empty net after Jamal Musiala’s drive had cannoned back off the post.
His 75th came late in the game, as he once again showed his talent in front of goal with a lashed finish after Serge Gnabry’s shot had come back off the post and fell to him in the box.
Barca, playing their first Champions League since the departure of talisman Lionel Messi, were flat and offered little, failing to muster a single shot on target.
They ended the game with four teenagers on the pitch, which did at least inject some urgency and lift a subdued crowd of just short of 40,000 because of Covid-19 restrictions.
They were still thoroughly outclassed, though, and by a Bayern team that were not even at their best.
Bayern ease to win against broken Barca
It is now 13 months since Bayern ruthlessly exposed the growing frailty at the heart of Barcelona, putting eight past them in one of the most eye-opening Champions League knockout games in recent memory.
Little did Barca know that things would only get worse for them in the months to follow, with a perilous financial situation bringing about the departure of Messi to Paris St-Germain this summer.
They now look a shell of a once great side – sleepwalking through the motions and vulnerable to be easily brushed aside by any side with a plan and talent, or a world-class one playing in third gear as Bayern were here.
Messi started up front with Luis Suarez in that 8-2 loss in 2020. On Wednesday, Barca paired two former Premier League failures in Memphis Depay and Luuk de Jong, and that was largely because ex-Middlesbrough forward Martin Braithwaite is injured.
Not that it mattered as Bayern cut the supply, left the home forwards adrift, set about pressing high, and patiently picked apart a defence designed to be a three but more often pushed into being a five.
Bayern are in something of a transition phase of their own, with their immediate solution to a departing manager and aging parts of their squad being to recruit the best bits from nearest domestic challenger RB Leipzig.
In new boss Julian Nagelsmann they have a man whose ideals make for an easy handover from successor Hansi Flick.
The 34-year-old has the talent and the tools to make this Bayern side a real challenger for the Champions League this season. If this is them in third gear, imagine when they hit fifth?
As for Barca, they are stalling and it is hard to see how they get themselves back on track.
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- 1ter Stegen
- 24GarcíaSubstituted forMinguezaat 66′minutes
- 5BusquetsSubstituted forPaez Gaviriaat 59′minutesBooked at 82mins
- 20RobertoSubstituted forDemirat 59′minutes
- 21de Jong
- 16González López
- 18AlbaSubstituted forBalde Martínezat 74′minutes
- 17de JongSubstituted forCoutinhoat 66′minutes
- 6Puig Martí
- 13Murara Neto
- 26Peña Sotorres
- 28González Iglesias
- 30Paez Gaviria
- 31Balde Martínez
- 5PavardSubstituted forHernándezat 66′minutes
- 2UpamecanoBooked at 78mins
- 4SüleSubstituted forStanisicat 82′minutes
- 6KimmichBooked at 5mins
- 42MusialaSubstituted forGnabryat 70′minutes
- 25MüllerSubstituted forSabitzerat 82′minutes
- 10SanéSubstituted forComanat 82′minutes
Match ends, Barcelona 0, FC Bayern München 3.
Second Half ends, Barcelona 0, FC Bayern München 3.
Attempt missed. Joshua Kimmich (FC Bayern München) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Kingsley Coman.
Joshua Kimmich (FC Bayern München) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona).
Foul by Marcel Sabitzer (FC Bayern München).
Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt missed. Robert Lewandowski (FC Bayern München) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Joshua Kimmich with a cross following a corner.
Corner, FC Bayern München. Conceded by Gerard Piqué.
Attempt missed. Serge Gnabry (FC Bayern München) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Joshua Kimmich.
Goal! Barcelona 0, FC Bayern München 3. Robert Lewandowski (FC Bayern München) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the top right corner.
Serge Gnabry (FC Bayern München) hits the right post with a right footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Kingsley Coman.
Attempt missed. Marcel Sabitzer (FC Bayern München) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Serge Gnabry.
Dayot Upamecano (FC Bayern München) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Gavi (Barcelona).
Substitution, FC Bayern München. Josip Stanisic replaces Niklas Süle.
Substitution, FC Bayern München. Kingsley Coman replaces Leroy Sané.
Substitution, FC Bayern München. Marcel Sabitzer replaces Thomas Müller.
Gavi (Barcelona) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Leon Goretzka (FC Bayern München) wins a free kick in the defensive half.