Six more demoralising European defeats for Barcelona

Barcelona’s heavy 4-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League came as a surprise to many.

But there is historical precedent, so we decided to delve into the club’s rich European history to find a further six hammerings suffered by the Catalans.

1980/81 UEFA Cup: Barcelona 0-4 1. FC Köln

Köln’s squad contained German internationals and World Cup finalists (past and future) Rainer Bonhof, Toni Schumacher and Pierre Littbarski, but Barcelona had Allan Simonsen, Quini and Migueli at their disposal.

Köln were in the midst of one of their greatest periods, while Barcelona had won just one league title in 20 years, but even considering the above, few saw this result coming.

Seeking to gain a first-leg advantage to take to Germany, the Catalans conceded first, with Gerd Strack curling home sumptuously to open the scoring.

Kubala’s half-time team talk had a soporific effect, with Stefan Engels nodding home Littbarksi’s cross to make it two just seconds after the restart.

The assist provider turned scorer just after the hour mark, before Dieter Muller capped off a humiliating night for Barça and a joint-worst ever home European defeat.

Koln were defeated by eventual winners Ipswich Town in the semi-finals.

1982 European Super Cup: Aston Villa 3-0 Barcelona

Although a Bryan Robson-inspired comeback at Old Trafford marks perhaps Barcelona’s most famous defeat on English soil, 18 months earlier the Catalans had fallen victim to another humiliation, this time in Birmingham.

Played over two legs in those days, the European Super Cup wasn’t exactly a prestigious competition, but both clubs were featuring in it for the first time and would have been keen to add a new honour to their not inconsiderable trophy cabinets.

A Marcos Alonso goal in the first-leg gave Barcelona a lead to take to Villa Park, which they looked like holding on to, thanks in part to their familiarity with the dark arts.

Although Diego Maradona missed the contest with injury, the Spanish side still contained plenty of feisty characters, with Julio Alberto sent off in the second half for handball.

Then, with 10 minutes to go, Gary Shaw scored for Villa, taking the game into extra time. A Gordan Cowans penalty and a Ken McNaught header gave Villa an unassailable lead, at which point it all kicked off.

Alonso was sent off for spitting, while Evans received a second yellow for kicking Miguel.

Barça were fined £20,000 after the game and several players were suspended, their behaviour a far cry from the beautiful football for which they’d soon be world-renowned.

1993/94 Champions League: AC Milan 4-0 Barcelona

Perhaps the most famous Catalan capitulation in Europe of them all occurred in the final of the 1993/94 Champions League.

Barcelona’s ‘Dream Team’ under Johan Cruyff had won four Spanish titles in a row, as well as eviscerating all before them in the preceding rounds.

Milan, meanwhile, had reached the final of the competition the season before but, shorn of their Dutch attacking trio of earlier in the decade and missing captain Franco Baresi, were no longer seen as being quite the same force.

With the three non-nationals regulations still in place, Cruyff opted to leave out Barça’s playmaker Michael Laudrup, instead approving the power of Hristo Stoichkov and Romario up front.

It proved to be a fatal mistake. Milan put in a performance widely seen as the greatest in European club history, Daniele Massaro scoring twice before the break to put the Italians firmly in control.

After half-time, an impudent lob from Dejan Savicevic – who had struggled for game time for Milan but was awesome in Athens – made it 3-0, before midfielder Marcel Desailly guided home to cement his side’s place in history.

Barça did not return to the showpiece final for 12 years and Cruyff, then the club’s greatest manager, never won another trophy.

1997/98 Champions League: Barcelona 0-4 Dynamo Kiev

The modern football fan would find the footballing landscape from two decades ago almost completely alien.

Barcelona – under the management of one Louis van Gaal – had lost their first game in the group to a Faustino Asprilla-inspired Newcastle United, despite boasting Stoichkov, Luis Figo and Rivaldo, as well as several members of LVG’s legendary Ajax European Cup-winning team.

Things didn’t get much better for the outspoken Dutchman as Andriy Shevchenko and Serhiy Rebrov – then probably Europe’s premier strikeforce – tore Barcelona to shreds in Spain, netting four without reply.

The Catalan giants went on to finish bottom of a group they had been overwhelming favourites to qualify from, exiting Europe before December was out. Enjoy the wine and merry Christmas, indeed.

2000/01 Champions League: Besiktas 3-0 Barcelona

In the days before wall-to-wall coverage, YouTube highlights clips and Twitter experts, football played on the margins of Europe was something of a mystery, which perhaps explains why so many big sides struggled in Turkey in the Champions League’s early years.

Here, goals from Ahmet Dursun (x 2) and Nouma ensured that Rivaldo, Patrick Kluivert et al. wouldn’t be returning from Istanbul with too many exotic tales to tell.

This embarrassing defeat for Barcelona at the İnönü Stadium proved especially costly for Lorenzo Serra Ferrer’s men.

Despite finishing Group H as top scorers, the Catalans were pipped to qualification by David O’Leary’s Leeds United.

2012/13 Champions League: Bayern Munich 4-0 Barcelona

Barça’s third 4-0 reverse in the Champions League era was widely seen as being symbolic of gegenpressing’s victory over tiki-taka in the football style stakes.

Barcelona, with two European Cups in four seasons under Pep Guardiola, were now under the tutelage of the former midfield maestro’s assistant Tito Vilanova, but slip-ups away at Celtic and Milan and a narrow away-goals victory in the quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain proved prescient.

The Catalans were blown away in the first leg of the semi-final at the Allianz Arena.

Thomas Muller nodded in from close range to give the hosts the lead on 25 minutes, before Mario Gomez volleyed home Muller’s knock down to make it two just after half-time.

An away goal from Barça would have put doubt in the Germans’ minds after their heartbreaking ‘home final’ defeat to Chelsea in 2012, but with Lionel Messi strangely subdued, a trademark left-footed finish from Arjen Robben and a second from Muller rendered the return leg a mere formality.

Bayern won 3-0 at the Camp Nou, making it 7-0 on aggregate, before emerging victorious against Dortmund at Wembley and pipping Barca to membership of the ‘five-time winners’ club.

The Author

Sam Carney

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