‘Twas a warm August night in Lisbon, Portugal, two years ago. Normally, a time that football would be just coming back to life for a new season. But this particular year, because of a global pandemic, a series of delays and a revamped format meant that mid-August was host to the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals. Instead of the usual home-and-away format, the eight remaining teams in the competition would gather in Lisbon and play a one-off mini tournament to see who would be crowned champions of Europe.
Fate had it that the only remaining clubs who had won the Champions League before, Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona, would be tied together in the bracket, meaning only one team would survive. Which mega club would go one step further in the competition? A true clash of the titans awaited, and fans expected a showdown for the ages.
Well, they got one, but probably not in the way they expected.
Barcelona wore their god awful blue and red checkerboard kit, while Bayern suited up in their new white strip. Bayern may as well have worn their red home kit, though, since Barcelona would only be seeing red after 90 minutes.
Barely three minutes had gone when Thomas Müller opened the scoring, slicing the ball into the bottom corner after a one-two with Robert Lewandowski. Barcelona soon got back into the game with an own goal from David Alaba, and the Catalans created a flurry of half chances afterwards, all to no avail. Bayern, meanwhile, woke up soon enough and took the lead once more when Ivan Perišić smashed in a tight shot.
A lovely connection between Barcelona alum Thiago and Leon Goretzka resulted in Serge Gnabry finding the back of the net to make it three for Bayern. The Bavarians then effectively put the game to bed after two pinpoint crosses from Perišić and Joshua Kimmich found Müller, who slotted in at the near post.
It was a massacre. Bayern had one and a half feet in the semifinals after only 45 minutes. Even the great Lionel Messi was seen staring at the floor, shell-shocked, lost for words, at halftime.
Barcelona did manage to salvage a tiny bit of pride when Luis Suarez scored a consolation about ten minutes after the restart. However, that tiny bit of pride was soon blown away by Alphonso Davies, who cruised past the entire Barcelona defense to set up Kimmich and restore Bayern’s three goal advantage.
The Spaniards were broken. All they could do now was wait for the final whistle. Unfortunately for the hapless Catalans, there was still half an hour to go, and Bayern weren’t done with them yet.
In the closing stages, Hansi Flick decided to sub on Barcelona loanee Philippe Coutinho to see just how much damage he could do to his parent club. About eight minutes later, he got his answer when the Brazilian assisted Lewandowski for Bayern’s sixth.
But the Coutinho show was just beginning. Just three minutes after that, Coutinho grabbed a goal of his own, assisted by the ever-productive Müller. The 7-2 scoreline was enough to make headlines all over the sporting world, but Coutinho wasn’t done and tapped in another goal in the final minutes.
And so it ended. 8-2. It was the first time that Barcelona had conceded eight goals in 74 years. It was also the first time in 69 years that Barcelona had lost by six goals, and the first time in 25 that they had lost by five or more. If that wasn’t enough, it was the first ever game in Champions League tournament history where eight goals had been scored in a single match.
Bayern never looked back after that triumph against Barcelona, dispatching Olympique Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain to win their second continental treble. The following season, Bayern merrily continued on their way and won their first ever sextuple, and after that, although they faltered slightly in the Champions League, they continued their domestic dominance by becoming the first ever team in Europe’s top five leagues to win ten consecutive league titles. Bottom line, Bayern are looking good and strong at the moment, and are eagerly stepping into a new era.
Bayern and Barcelona are two clubs that share the same initials, yet they could not be more different in how the clubs are run, and how that has impacted the clubs’ results. How long this trend will continue remains to be seen, but whatever happens, no fan of either club will ever forget that glorious game in 2020, no matter how much time passes by.