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Barcelona Will Not Play In The Knockout Rounds Of The Champions League For The First Time In 18 Years After A 3-0 Loss To Bayern Munich

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Barcelona drops into the Europa League playoffs after finishing third in Group E, thanks to Benfica’s 2-0 win over Dynamo Kyiv in the other game of the evening.

That ended a Barcelona campaign which would have been unthinkable in the club’s heyday with Lionel Messi up front and Pep Guardiola as coach from 2008 through 2012. The group stage began with a 3-0 loss to Bayern at the Camp Nou and got worse with a 3-0 defeat and 0-0 draw against Benfica. Barcelona scored only two goals in six games, both against last-place Dynamo, and conceded nine.

The five-time European champion last failed to make the Champions League last 16 in 2003-04. That season, Barcelona missed the Champions League entirely and played in what was then the UEFA Cup, thanks to a poor Spanish league finish the season before.

Defeat in the snow in Munich will deepen Barcelona’s already overwhelming financial problems as it misses out on lucrative prize money and exposure for sponsors. Sitting seventh in La Liga means Barcelona may not even qualify for next year’s competition.

The first goal Barcelona conceded Wednesday was one of fine margins, with goal-line technology required to show Thomas Müller’s looping header had crossed the line before Ronald Araujo belatedly attempted to clear.

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