football

Barcelona suffer same humiliating Champions League fate as disastrous 2000/01 season


Barcelona are out of the 2021/22 Champions League at the first hurdle after failing to progress from their group, partly under the guidance of new boss and club legend Xavi

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Titans of both Spanish and European football, it is not often that Barcelona perform so poorly in the Champions League group stages they fail to reach the knock-out stages of the competition.

Yet that is the reality the Camp Nou faithful wake up to this morning, their beloved Barcelona side eliminated with a whimper as they struggled to lay a glove on Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.

Three goals from the German giants alongside a Benfica win elsewhere sealed the Catalan giants fate, ensuring both ex-boss Ronald Koeman and current manager Xavi Hernandez were responsible for the first Barcelona side to fail to qualify from their Champions League group in two decades.

The decline of recent standards is evident for all to see in the players that Xavi now has at his disposal, but what players made up the misfiring squad of 2000/01 which also tasted European humiliation?

HAVE YOUR SAY! Is this the worst Barcelona side in recent memory? Comment below






Barcelona boss Xavi looks dejected as Barcelona crash out of the Champions League at the group stages

It certainly wasn’t shy of big names, a number of European greats donned the famous blue and red shirt that year only to be pipped to the post by English outfit Leeds United in the Champions League group stage.

AC Milan ran out group winners after taking 11 points from their six fixtures, while Leeds finished a point ahead of Barcelona despite being resoundingly beaten at the Camp Nou on opening night of the group stage campaign.

That Leeds side contained a number of talented players including Robbie Keane on loan from Inter Milan, defensive stalwart Lucas Radebe and future El Clasico participant Jonathan Woodgate.

However, it was no match for its Barcelona equivalent in terms of star power – boasting players that had both already achieved greatness or would go on to as both a player and manager within their ranks.

Frank de Boer was part of the Barca backline, the Dutchman an elegant defender on the pitch but has enjoyed mixed reviews at a managerial level.

He can proudly take ownership of four Eredivisie titles as manager of Ajax, but is also statistically the worst manager in Premier League history after his four-game ill-fated stint as boss of Crystal Palace.

Another member of that Barcelona squad who knows a thing or two about management is Pep Guardiola, best known to English fans for prowling the Etihad technical area as boss of Manchester City.

Guardiola has guided City to three Premier League titles, but cemented his status as a Barcelona legend long before having guided the club to three La Liga and two Champions League crowns after taking over as manager in 2008.







Pep Guardiola won the Champions League twice as manager of Barcelona
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Image:

REUTERS)

Though the 2000/01 Barca squad struggled on Europe’s biggest stage, it contained yet another player who would win the most coveted trophy in club football.

Much like Guardiola, Luis Enrique won the Champions League as manager of Barcelona 14 years on from the group stage humiliation he suffered as a player and is currently in charge of the Spain national team.

Phillip Cocu also made the transition into management, though not in quite such high-profile fashion as his teammates, the Dutchman most recently taking charge of Championship outfit Derby County.

There was a strong Netherlands influence that ran through the core of the Barcelona squad from 20 years ago, with Patrick Kluivert and Marc Overmars also integral members of the squad.

Both of the aforementioned duo have gone on to enjoy high-ranking roles within the hierarchies of Barcelona and Ajax respectively, Kluivert once the head of the academy in Catalonia while Overmars remains director of football at the Amsterdam-based outfit.







Rivaldo was Barcelona’s talisman for a number of years
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Image:

Reuters)

The star player within that now infamous squad was Brazilian superstar Rivaldo, the attacking midfielder enjoying the best days of his playing career at the Camp Nou.

Having won the Ballon d’Or just two years prior to Barca’s humiliating exit, the latter stages of the 2000/01 Champions League were robbed of one of the best players on the planet participating.

Emmanuel Petit failed to recreate his Arsenal heroics in Barcelona colours, the miserable 2000/01 season his only campaign at the Camp Nou before returning to London to ply his trade for Chelsea.






Barcelona’s Carles Puyol jostles with Alan Smith at Elland Road

While he only made thirty appearances between the sticks for Barcelona, Pepe Reina enjoyed a stellar career elsewhere for Premier League titans Liverpool and Serie A giants Napoli.

The 2001 crop of Barcelona stars contained what was then a number of young talents at the beginning of their journey which would eventually result in club legend status.

Current boss Xavi Hernandez was part of the starting line-up that drew 1-1 at Elland Road on a cold October’s night, as was hardman and club icon Carles Puyol.

Given he has now experienced Champions League group stage elimination as both a player and a manager, it remains to be seen how both Xavi and Barcelona bounce back from such a low-point given the club’s stature.

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