On Tuesday 14th September, FC Barcelona will once again face its nemesis in European competitions, Bayern Munich. The Spanish and German clubs have a deep recent history with many memorable matches played within the past 5 years. Also, the fact that they have both shared a coach in the past, Pep Guardiola, makes the history deeper and stronger.
The most recent match that both teams played was the quarter-finals of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League season on August 14th, 2020. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic that truncated the seasonal calendar of all European countries, the knockout phases from the quarter-finals for that year were played as a one-legged affair in Lisbon, Portugal. FC Barcelona came up against an in-form Bayern Munich side boasting the strength of the exceptional Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry.
FC Barcelona was a team low on confidence and quality going into the fixture and with Quique Setien barely holding on to the strings of the Blaugrana team, their inadequacies were fully exposed. Despite Lionel Messi trying his best to drag Barcelona through the line, the Spanish side fell to the most embarrassing loss of all time, losing 8 - 2 to a ruthless and relentless Bayern Munich side. At the end of the match, Lionel Messi was seen slumped on the pitch, with his head down and looking very disappointed. This is said to be a turning point in Messi's journey with Barcelona.
Shortly after that defeat, Lionel Messi put in his transfer request to the then club president, Josep Bartomeu, wanting to leave on a free transfer. But the Blaugrana President argued that the free transfer clause was over and thus blocked his move. The matter was going to lead to a court case before Lionel Messi pulled out of the case. But that set the tone for the eventual fall of FC Barcelona and the departure of Lionel Messi.
Consequently, in August 2021, Lionel Messi finally left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain. Despite the best efforts of the new President, Juan Laporta, the club could not sort out its financial problems. Thus, they could not renew Lionel Messi's contract even after the 6-time Ballon d'Or agreed to take a 50% pay cut. Many would look back at the 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich and realise that it was the beginning of the end of Lionel Messi at the Camp Nou.