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‘BARCA HAVE HIT ROCK BOTTOM’

15 Aug 2020

Experienced Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said his club needed big changes following their 8-2 humiliation to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinal in Lisbon on Friday

Star Barcelona defender Gerard Pique described their 8-2 Champions League quarterfinal battering at the hands of Bayern Munich in Lisbon, Portugal, on Friday as a ‘disgrace’, adding that the Spanish giants had ‘hit rock-bottom’.

Thomas Mueller and Philippe Coutinho both scored twice as the German double winners blew Barca away in a merciless display.

Ivan Perisic, Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich and Robert Lewandowski were also on target for Bayern, with Barca’s goals coming via a David Alaba own goal and a second-half strike from Luis Suarez.

“We have hit rock-bottom. This is not the first, nor the second, nor the third time. We are not on the right path,” said Pique.

“Coaches and players follow one another, but it has been several years since we have been able to be competitive on a European level.

“We all have to think internally and decide what is best for the club, for Barca. Tonight was unacceptable for Barcelona.”

He added, “If I have to go for us to bring in new blood, I’ll go. It’s an embarrassment. If this is the end of our run? Yes, we need to structurally change. We are not able to compete in Europe, and it’s not working in La Liga [Spanish League]. We can’t mask this any longer,” Pique told Movistar after the Champions League exit.

“It was a horrible match. It leaves a bad feeling, a disgrace,” added 33 year old Pique. The defender has won 20 major titles over 12 years with the club.

Five-time winners Barcelona’s last Champions League title came in 2015 and their latest rout came after being beaten to the La Liga title by bitter rivals Real Madrid.

Barca star Lionel Messi was 27 when they last won the Champions League. He is 33 now and this game may make up his mind that he needs to finally leave the Camp Nou if he is to win it again.

Friday’s loss was the heaviest Barca have suffered in Europe.

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien was already under pressure heading into the quarterfinal tie following a disappointing seven months in charge after succeeding Ernesto Valverde in January.

When asked about the future of the club and Pique’s comments, he responded: “I’m not going to talk about what is needed at the club. I’ve been here for just a few months.

“If Gerard [Pique] says that it’s time for big changes there’s going to be importance to his words. It’s time for us to review and take the decisions which are needed for the future.”

When asked to address his own future at the Nou Camp, he said: “I think that right now it’s too soon to be talking about whether I stay at the club or not. The reality is that it doesn’t depend on me.

“It’s worth all of us working out what’s important and considering a wide range of things which correspond to a defeat of this importance and which is so painful.”

Against Barca we were brutal: Muller

Bayern’s midfielder Muller said, “We were all warned about this Bayern Munich attack – now we have witnessed it at its most ferocious.

Yes, Barcelona were poor – in fact, they were awful. But credit to coach Hansi Flick for making them look poor.”

Muller, who scored twice, said the side had ‘made a statement’ in Lisbon. It was some statement as Bayern became the first team in Champions League history to score eight goals in a knockout match, and the first in the European Cup since Real Madrid in the 1990-91 last-16 against FC Wacker Innsbruck (9-1).

Barcelona had not conceded eight goals since losing 8-0 to Sevilla in the last-16 of the Spanish Cup in 1946.

Bayern have won their past 19 matches in all competitions, a record run for a German top-flight team.

Muller, 30, was also involved for Germany in the 7-1 thrashing of Brazil at the 2014 World Cup. He scored the opener in what was one of the most memorable international fixtures of all time.

When asked about the comparison between the success over Barcelona and that feat, the man of the match said: “In the win in Brazil we didn’t have the same amount of control. Yes, we were good, but tonight the way we dominated the game was brutal.”

Muller added: “Today we have to be very happy. After we wake up and answer the messages on the phone then we have to focus. I know about these tournament situations. Most of the time after the big wins it’s difficult.”

Flick was an assistant to head coach Joachim Low in 2014, and he was also asked to compare the wins.

The 55 year old, who has been in permanent charge only since December, said: “You know that I do not look back because only the here and now matters.

“Yes, we played an outstanding game and we can be happy but we all know we still have hard work to do if we are to stand in the end where we want to stand.”

They face either Manchester City or Lyon in the semifinal, which will take place next Wednesday.

 

German champions’ absolute demolition

On the pitch, Bayern orchestrated an absolute demolition of fellow European heavyweights Barcelona in a gloriously chaotic and utterly one-sided quarterfinal tie.

The high-pressing, energetic and ruthless German champions were on a different level to their Spanish rivals.

They scored four times in the first half, added another quartet in the second, and could easily have netted more against a shell-shocked and shambolic Barca side whose defensive errors were too numerous to recount.

Bayern were not entirely infallible, though, with Barca’s forward players – inevitably led by Messi and Suarez – regularly finding space in behind to cause problems and test Manuel Neuer.

In a dizzyingly madcap opening ten minutes, Muller fired Bayern ahead following a one-two with Lewandowski and Alaba wildly sliced a Jordi Alba cross into his own net to restore parity, before Suarez was denied by Neuer and Messi hit the post with a curling cross through a packed box.

The following 22 minutes took the game away from Barca, with Perisic smashing in a deflected second for Bayern before Gnabry finished off a delightful ball over the top from Leon Goretzka, and Muller poked in his second at the near post.

A neat turn and finish from Suarez after the break gave the Spanish side hope, but this was snuffed out by arguably the pick of the goals – a Kimmich side-foot finish following some stunning skill and speed and excellent delivery from Alphonso Davies.

Lewandowski headed his 14th Champions League goal in just eight games before salt was poured into Barca’s deep wounds as Coutinho – on loan from the Spanish side – netted a seventh and eighth via close-range finishes after coming off the bench.

Bayern are by far the most decorated side left in the competition, having won the European Cup/Champions League on five occasions, most recently in 2013 and look comfortably the strongest left in this season’s tournament. The German giants have reached their 12th Champions League semifinal – only Real Madrid have done so more often (13).

 

(With inputs from agencies, BBC Sport)

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