Barcelona seem to have lost their stronghold at the continental level of late. However, they remain one of the most dominant and successful sides in the history of the Champions League.
Over the years, the Catalans have inflicted pain on a number of sides across Europe. They took the famous ‘tiki-taka’ style to another level and blew away opponents with ease. However, they’ve had their bad days in the competition as well.
Paris Saint-Germain’s 5-1 Champions League Round of 16 aggregate win over Barcelona is the latest in a catalogue of embarrassing defeats in Europe’s premier competition for the Blaugrana.
From Rome to Anfield to Lisbon, the Catalans have been through the highest and lowest of the Champions League. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at five of Barcelona’s biggest defeats in recent seasons. As earlier mentioned, our focus here will be in the Champions League.
Paris Saint-Germain 4-1 Barcelona (Champions League 2020/21 Round of 16)
The Parisians were drawn against Barcelona in a repeat of the extraordinary ‘Remontada’ in 2016/17. In that famous game, Barca overturned a 4-0 deficit to win 6-5 on aggregate. It was indeed one of the greatest-ever UCL games.
This season’s episode, however, saw PSG exert sweet revenge on the sorry Spaniards as Kylian Mbappe put them to the sword with a hat trick in a 4-1 win at Camp Nou. The young Frenchman stole all the headlines from Messi on his own turf and that made the story even more compelling. The stunning result was another of the many spectacles at Barca’s home patch as the hosts were shown the gulf in class with another European heavyweight.
AS Roma 3-0 Barcelona (Champions League 2017/18 quarterfinal)
Roma ironically made a comeback win over the Cules as they shocked Messi & co at the Stadio Olimpico. The win on away goals for the Italian outfit perhaps marked the start of the Catalan’s downfall. It’s safe to say that defeat had a damaging psychological effect on Barca as it continued a subsequent trend of choking on the big stage of the Champions League. Till date, they are yet to overcome it.
Trailing 4-1 from the first leg, Roma took an early lead through Edin Džeko before turning the screw in the second half with a late winner for 3-0 from Kostas Manolas. Barca had somehow contrived to lose a tie they were winning comfortably and the hurt in the Champions League has been consistent and degrading since then.
Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (Champions League 2018/19 semi-final)
The words ‘corner taken quickly’ might not mean anything but it means a whole lot to Barcelona fans. Those words trigger memories of a certain night at Anfield where it all came crashing for them. Barca looked poised to reach the showpiece game of Europe’s premier club competition after a 3-0 win at home in the first leg with Lionel Messi particularly looking unstoppable. However, they suffered an astonishing reverse at Anfield in the return fixture.
Liverpool were missing star forwards Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in the return leg but produced a fantastic performance roared on by a vehement home crowd. That was the story of the day; Liverpool performing better without their star players.
Salah watched on from the sidelines, donning a t-shirt with the caption ‘nothing is impossible’. At the end of the day, those words were truly brought to life.
Divock Origi gave Liverpool a seventh-minute lead on the night and completed the memorable comeback with a ‘quickly-taken corner’ in the 79th, after substitute Georginio Wijnaldum had scored a quick-fire brace early in the second half.
Origi might not boast the best of numbers in a Liverpool jersey but he remains adored by the Reds’ supporters simply because of this fixture.
Barcelona 2-8 Bayern Munich (Champions League 2019/20 quarter-final)
Barca’s heaviest defeat in a single match in European competition was staged in Lisbon as they were humiliated, humbled, and outplayed by a ruthless Bayern Munich side.
The ageing Blaugrana side were torn to pieces by the effervescent Bavarians who scored almost at will after restoring their early lead from a quick equalizer. The German champions overran the Catalan side and won both halves 4-1, as substitute Philippe Coutinho, on loan from Barca, scored two late goals and assisted another.
The cracks were already visible for Barcelona but Bayern opened the floodgates, and the fallout was unsurprisingly seismic. It was the first time since 2008 that the club ended a season without a cup and coach Quique Setién was immediately sacked. After that game, Gerard Pique declared Barca had hit rock bottom and talisman Messi was considering his future in one of the biggest transfer sagas in football history.
It wasn’t just one of Barcelona’s worst defeat; it was also one of the worst defeats in Champions League history.
Bayern Munich 7-0 (aggregate) Barcelona (Champions League 2012/13 Semi Final)
Bayern Munich must be Barcelona’s worst nightmare. If any team knows how to handle the Spanish giants, it’s definitely the German machines. Time and time again, Barcelona have struggled against the Bavarians.
The 2020 shellacking bore a striking resemblance to Bayern’s 7-0 aggregate rout of Tito Vilanova’s side in the 2013 semi-final. It was supposed to be one of the most anticipated games of the tournament but it ended up looking like a mere exhibition game. The Germans won the first leg at home 4-0 followed by a 3-0 victory at Nou Camp in which Messi sat on the bench. Of course, criticism came from all over regarding the manager’s decision to leave such a talismanic figure watching from the bench.
The truth remains that Messi might have done little to nothing if he played in that game as the German giants were simply unplayable.
Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben ran riot over both legs and were the driving force in that campaign. Just like in 2020, Bayern went on to lift the trophy with big ears after a resounding victory over Barcelona.