By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer
With Barcelona, the unbelievable never seems far away, but needing a 4-0 win over Bayern Munich just to prolong their interest in the Champions League for another half an hour, this challenge seems beyond them.
Defeat in Bavaria wasn’t the greatest of shocks, but the margin of the spanking and the uncharacteristic bluntness of Barca’s play was. In contrast to their Clasico rivals, Barcelona’s glimmers of hope are much thinner and fainter than Real Madrid’s. No away goal leaves the Catalan giants with a task more difficult than liking Sergio Busquets.
If it was anyone else you could forget all about it and settle in for the Watchdog’s fascinating investigation into the high cost of water charges for British households, but – sorry Anne – the ginger Chris Tarrant will have to wait. This is Barca at the Nou Camp and the stake hasn’t been driven through their heart just yet. The permutations call for some unfounded optimism, but at least they have some permutations, which is a start. Here’s home some of the results would affect Barca:
- 4-0 win = Extra time
- 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 2-1, 3-1, 3-2, 4-1, 4-2 (etc) = Barca out, egos dented
- 5-1, 6-2, 7-3, 8-4 = all very impressive, but it still means Barca are out
- 5-0, 6-0, 7-0, 6-1, 7-1, 7-2 (or any result where Bayern score at least one away goal, but Barca win by five or more goals) = unlikely as it is, it would put Barca through in normal time
While other teams would already be working on their ‘oh well, we gave it our best, but it was just too much’, the sheer volume of trashings they’ve handed at the Nou Camp give rise for possibly ill-advised confidence. Since Pep Guardiola took over in 2008 and into the reign of Tito Vilanova, Barca have won 26 per cent of all their home games by margins that would get them at least extra time against Bayern. In 150 games, they’ve managed the scoreline they need (4-0, 5-0, 6-1, 6-0 etc) on an impressive 39 occasions.
If you are clutching at the straws you need to base your Barca hopes on, there is some good news – the straws exist. Yes the bulk of the hammerings that Los Cules have handed out at the Camp Nou have been to weaker domestic rivals, but they’ve also got some major scalps in the mix, including –rather interestingly – that of Bayern Munich. Some of the more notable results include:
- 5-0 v Real Madrid (2010)
- 6-1 v Atletico Madrid (2008)
- 5-0 v Atletico Madrid (2011)
- 4-0 v Valencia (2008)
- 4-0 v Bayern Munich (2009)
- 4-0 v AC Milan (2013)
- 4-0 v Sevilla x 3 (2009, 2010, 2010)
- 5-0 v Sevilla (2010)
- 5-0 v Villarreal (2011)
One thing is clear from that list – Sevilla must hate rocking up to Barcelona. The other, most important thing that becomes clear is that Barca are more than capable of opening a can of whup-ass on some decent teams. A large part of the aforementioned 26 per cent are minnows and candle-makers from Andalusia, but the presence of Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Valencia, Bayern and only a few weeks back, AC Milan, shows Barcelona are capable of getting the result they need to keep the tie alive at least until extra time.
It doesn’t look good for Barca. Saying anything else is as pointless as placing a lot of faith in one of Guillem Balgue’s ‘exclusive’ transfer rumours. An away goal for Bayern and Barca would need to score six to go through and you’d have to think they’re toast. They’re 22/1 to get the 4-0 win that would take the game to extra time and 10/1 to qualify for the final. It’s very unlikely, but Barca have a track record of achieving the unlikely. Now would be a good time to prove it.