As many as three La Liga teams — Sevilla, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid — have been ousted from the Group Stage of the UEFA Champions League, dealing a severe blow to Spanish soccer. On Wednesday, Bayern defeated Barcelona by a lopsided margin.
This is the second consecutive year that the Blaugrana have been eliminated in the Champions League's opening round. The Catalan giants' destiny was determined following Inter's earlier win over Viktoria Plzen, and they collapsed to a 3-0 loss to the reigning Bundesliga winners in front of their home fans.
It was all but over by halftime as Sadio Mane and Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting gave the visitors a two-goal advantage. To add some intrigue, Barcelona haven't been eliminated from the Group Stage of the highest European club tournament two times in a row since the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons.
The stats that suggest Barcelona are still Lionel Messi-dependent
This unfortunate data, which is nothing short of a downfall for Barcelona, coincides with the departure of the club's greatest player, Lionel Messi, who swapped Camp Nou for Paris Saint-Germain's Parc des Princes in the summer of 2021 as a free agent. It has become clear that Xavi Hernandez's squad is unlikely to function without him, an intriguing revelation given the club's dependence on him.
Facts and figures demonstrate that the Blaugrana haven't been able to reach the Knockout Stage at all without the Argentine grandmaster. Barca have only failed to go beyond the Group Stage of the Champions League in the previous two decades only when Lionel Messi was not even part of the roster.
In fact, even though the Argentine forward spent 17 years of his professional career with Barcelona without ever appearing in the Europa League. Since he left, in the summer of 2021, his former side have participated in the tournament annually.
Meanwhile, a 7-2 victory at the Parc des Princes, ensured Messi's progression with PSG to the Knockout Round of the Champions League. The 35-year-old forward's virtuosic performance resulted in two assists and two goals, setting a new record in the process.