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The Times of India Hyderabad|December 10, 2021
Barcelona Lose to Bayern, Fail To Clear Group Stage For First Time In 18 Years; Drop To Europa League

Munich: Barcelona will not play in the knockout rounds of the Champions League for the first time in 18 years after a 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich on Wednesday ensured the Catalan club was eliminated from European soccer’s premier competition.

Barcelona drop into the Europa League playoffs after finishing third in Group E, thanks to Benfica’s 2-0 win over Dynamo Kiev in the other game of the evening. That ended a Barcelona campaign which would have been unthinkable with Lionel Messi upfront and Pep Guardiola as coach from 2008 through 2012. The group stage began with a 3-0 loss to Bayern at the Camp Nou and got worse with a 3-0 defeat and 0-0 draw against Benfica. Barcelona scored only two goals in six games, both against last place Dynamo, and conceded nine.

“We start a new era, from zero, from here,’’ coach Xavi Hernandez said. The five-time European champions last failed to make the Champions League last 16 in 2003-04. Defeat in the snow in Munich will deepen Barcelona’s already overwhelming financial problems as it misses out on lucrative prize money and exposure for sponsors.

The first goal Barcelona conceded was one of fine margins, with goal-line technology required to show Thomas Muller’s looping header had crossed the line. The second was a simple goalkeeping error as Marc-Andre ter Stegen let Leroy Sane’s speculative long-range shot bounce off his arm and in. The deficit worsened when Jamal Musiala applied a simple finish.

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