Last night I dreamt that I was in a swimming pool with my daughter, looking at the moon (I don’t have a swimming pool – I do have a daughter) Suddenly, huge chunks of what looked to be jigsaw shaped pieces of land began to obscure the moon. Looking closer, I noticed those cut up pieces of land were actually strips comprising the city of Barcelona, as though cut out of a map. Then, as in a nightmare, the pieces of land began falling, hurtling towards us, growing ever larger, threatening to crush us under their weight.
Still hurts, doesn’t it? Horrible memories of that awful night in August 2020 still stalk the halls of all culers minds. It was the destruction of an era, a brutal slaying and an emphatic full stop on Messi’s golden years in Catalonia. The dream was over, and Bayern were performing the execution. Like some form of Bavarian grim reaper, they had come to bury Barcelona, and this they duly did. The Catalan giants were plunged into a black pit of despair, a pit they are only just climbing out of now. They look to be back, tentatively rebuilding their confidence, trying to forget the scars of that night, hoping nothing blows the house down while it’s fragile and being carefully restored.
Enter Bayern Munich.
Barcelona are set to face the German champions for the first time since that devastating night two years ago. More than just a return to the Champions League, more than a chance to gauge themselves and Xavi’s revolution against much stiffer competition then they have faced so far, the game offers Barça a chance to excoriate their demons from that fateful night. A chance to banish their demons from that time. It will not be easy. Barcelona have never won at the Allianz Arena in a recognised competitive game, drawing two and losing four. History is not on their side.
If that narrative is to change, it will likely come down to the boots of the man who is the other headline story of this game; Robert Lewandowski. The Polish striker returns to his old club just two month’s after leaving them for the Camp Nou and will be looking to make a point. Lewa is in red hot form right now, and Bayern must be fearing his wrath. The Bavarians are not the imperious side they were under Hansi Flick, the now German national coach. In fact, it is Barca that come into the game on form having not lost a game in LaLiga so far this season. Even Bayern Munich’s sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has warned his players the team must improve if they are to beat Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday, urging them to take their performances up a gear or two. Bayern president Herbert Hainer has said he hopes that striker Robert Lewandowski receives a friendly welcome on his return to the Allianz Arena. That may depend on how much damage he does to the home side.
Let’s hope it is colossal. This is a litmus test for Xavi Hernandez and his new look Barcelona. It is also a chance for much needed revenge. Sure, the memories of that 8-2 loss will never completely fade, Barca getting one over on their German rivals will certainly help ameliorate that wound. Another brutal loss and there is no telling what long term psychological damage it could do to Xavi’s young team.
Strap yourselves in for battle. Barcelona’s immediate future may just depend on it.