Written by Staff Writer, CNN Frankfurt
Barcelona dropped down to Group E after a 1-0 loss to Bayern Munich in their first match of the group stage of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
The Spanish champions went down to their German Bundesliga opponents thanks to a sensational, long-range strike from Arjen Robben, who beat Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen at his near post.
The news came at a very bad time for the Catalans, whose La Liga title defense begins next Sunday.
However, though the team started strongly and created the better of the chances, they were beaten at home by a better side who dominated the first half.
Head coach Ernesto Valverde’s side – including goalkeeper Ter Stegen – appeared in good shape, with Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique — who came off injured during the warm-up — having both picked up yellow cards in the first half.
Barcelona dominated possession and shots on goal but struggled to break through the Bayern defense, with Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer making two big saves.
However, the Bundesliga side took the lead on the stroke of half-time as the ball broke for Robben, who cut in from the left and unleashed a stunning goal that bent past Ter Stegen and into the top corner.
Barcelona looked up for the task in the second half and Madrid taking their opportunity to move up to group leaders.
Suarez and Ousmane Dembele both fired wide, while goalkeeper Neuer brilliantly turned another strike from Lucas Digne around the post.
However, the Bavarians withstood Barca’s pressure and, after superb centre-back pairing Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels held their ground, they did enough to win in Germany.
But they lost Brazil star Neymar to injury just past the hour mark, when he appeared to injure his knee.
It is the second year in a row that Barcelona have failed to progress from their group.