The week of the bloodbath. Barcelona went to whisper their sorrows to Hannibal Lector while Bayern Munich, a group of ruthless individuals, don’t care about the last decade. One summer, they beat Real Madrid 9-1 in a friendly that nobody saw and, another summer, they beat Barcelona 8-2 in a game shown across the world.
Bayern are a changer of lives. The histories of Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Barcelona would be different without this club. They’re hated, feared and admired in equal measure. The number of apocalypses they’ve caused is higher than the number of European Cups they’ve won, which is somehow only five.
There are teams that take their foot off the gas when they’re already six goals up against an opponent of considerable stature. Bayern put their foot down and get annoyed when the match is over. They are programmed to do damage.
Gerd Muller’s goal
One famous day in 1976, a Bayern team consisting of Franz Beckenbauer, Uli Hoeness, Sepp Maiar and Gerd ‘Torpedo’ Muller visited the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu for a European Cup game. Real Madrid went ahead and then something extraordinary happened. During a replay on TV, the camera cut to Torpedo Muller celebrating a goal. That was Bayern Munich. They scored goals when you weren’t watching them to freeze your blood. That goal wasn’t seen and still isn’t watched.
Unfortunately for Barcelona, the goals in Lisbon didn’t suffer from technical interruptions. What we saw in Lisbon was a team offering a bag of crisps to Keith Richards, who didn’t use watches. He picked up the packet, threw it on the floor, stamped on it and called the owner for another year.
When we see Barcelona again, Quique Setien, who has aged 10 years in six months, won’t be their coach. There were two sentences in his short spell there. “I can only guarantee one thing: my team is going to play well”, “We’re going to enjoy ourselves.” There are no guarantees in football.
Creating a Barcelona that reminds people of Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola with the promise of being a Picasso was too risky.