Bayern Munich’s vision of the future as recent history repeats itself. The German club has once again put Barcelona under reality check, although this 2-0 was slightly different from the previous four wins in a row. It was probably a bit sweeter considering that Robert Lewandowski’s change added more to the occasion.
His move was supposed to be a sign of an unpopular new Barcelona, perhaps surpassing Bayern, but instead he looked unusually leaden as the German champions had more youthful vigor in that sense. They also had an exceptional Jamal Musiał who led the match and can now lead the team in the absence of a Pole.
You could even say that he made the difference, he was the player who really brought his team together in a match between two teams that clearly need time to get stronger. So it wasn’t something like 8-2 for Barcelona or even last season’s humility, but it was a reality test.
They are not there yet, even if they are not that far away.
However, this is not something they might take lightly, given the presence of a third power in Internazionale in this group. It also creates more pressure than the threat of early elimination. Joan Laporty’s entire financial plan is based on the fact that Barca is a commercially brilliant site that beats the big competitions. The fact that they are in such a group illustrates the inherent risks but also ensures that this is a more classic 90s Champions League match.
There were two good sides to knowing they needed a score and didn’t have the usual safety net.
This may be the case for some players who are more used to more forgiving home games.
After focusing so much on Lewandowski before the game, the new Barca striker will not want too much emphasis on his performance during the game. It will be one of his worst nights at this stadium in a while, even considering the fact that he finally received warm applause.
He really should have had a hat trick. Lewandowski simply lacked his usual sharpness. It wasn’t a weak League anymore.
On the first occasion, after a few minutes, the ball sat down so invitingly just in front of the goal. It was an opportunity he enjoyed here. Instead, at the first sign, something was wrong, it caught fire. A moment of chance later seemed easier, but it was probably harder to score. Lewandowski shot his head from close range, but hit the goal itself. This meant we had a classic Manuel Neuer stop and not a classic Lewandowski goal as the goalkeeper scored him in that defined style.
The striker just couldn’t find his usual finesse. When he slipped through Pedri again before the break, with the field almost open, Lewandowski’s touch was weak.
The more difficult truth might be that he may have already been replaced as a Bayern star, but not Sadio Mane.
Musiał is clearly the new king. Once the England international, England’s youth international, he absolutely led the game and his ominous wandering complemented Alphonso Davies’ waves so perfectly.
Like Barca, not every Bayern player has been so in tune. Mane and Muller fell as they tried to finish off another great ball – of course – They had to. Leroy Sane’s touch was often sloppy, with three counterattacks breaking at his feet.
That would change – although it probably took over Bayern’s electric charge. Perhaps it was not a coincidence that came out of the scene and one potential Barca problem, not some open-ended game construction of any kind. However, the target was so bad as to give away. He was almost gifted. The open space in front of Andre ter Stegen’s goal has certainly given up.
Shortly after the break, Joshua Kimmich took a corner and Lucas Hernandez was left completely unmarked just to move towards a closer post.
Bayern was at the front and running away. For about 15 minutes, they delivered a vision of Nagelsmann’s ideal for this team. All of these were sharp passes and sudden bursts at a pace that was too difficult for Barka’s defense. With holes pierced in Xavi’s defense, Sane suddenly slammed through one and then slid the ball past Ter Stegen.
It should have been it, but Barca was still creating openings. Pedri wasn’t far from Musiala that night. As the opportunity arose to level a straight ball for Pedri to make 2-1, the young midfielder instead smacked the post indulgently.
If it did, it could give Lewandowski’s greatest moment even more meaning. Barca got a late game free kick but with enough time to come back. Lewandowski stood over it, right from the place where it had offered so many similar finishes over the years.
This time it just hit the wall. Lewandowski stayed there when Bayern – and Musiala – wandered off again.
It was a very vision of the game.