Barcelona out of the Champions League: Explaining how it happened

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Frenkie De Jong - FC Barcelona - December 8, 2021
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FC Barcelona has been in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds every year since 2005. That streak was snapped in its final group-stage match of the 2021-22 edition. For a team struggling with financial troubles after losing club icon Lionel Messi in the summer, it’s a fall from grace that many saw coming despite a recent coaching change.

The Blaugrana (7 points) were unseated in second place in Group E by Benfica (8 points): Barcelona lost 3-0 against Bayern Munich and third-place Benfica beat Dynamo Kiev comfortably 2-0. 

With Benfica winning its home game against last-place Dynamo Kyiv and also holding the tiebreaker against Barcelona, only a Barcelona away win against Bayern Munich would have secured passage to the Round of 16 for the Blaugrana.

Even though Bayern had nothing to play for but pride, and the match was played behind closed doors due to a spike in COVID-19 infections in Bavaria, those conditions did not make the task any easier for Barcelona.

MORE: Barcelona in the Europa League playoffs; how it works

The final Group E standings follow below. Finishing in third place has earned Barcelona the conslation prize of a ticket to the Europa League Round of 16 playoffs in February.

Group E final standings

Team PTS GP W L D GF GA GD
1. Bayern Munich (X) 18 6 6 0 0 22 3 +19
2. Benfica (X) 8 6 2 2 2 7 9 -2
3. FC Barcelona 7 6 2 3 1 2 9 -7
4. Dynamo Kyiv 1 6 0 5 1 1 11 -10

How did Barcelona end up with such a poor record? Losing both head-to-head matchups against Bayern Munich wasn’t the problem. It was the direct matchups against Benfica that cost Barcelona second place in the group. Benfica beat Barcelona 3-0 in the first game, and then secured a decisive 0-0 draw in Spain to lock up the tiebreaker.

To understand just how much Barcelona has missed Messi, just look at the goals scored column: Two goals in six matches just doesn’t cut it among the elite teams in Europe.

When was Barcelona last eliminated in the group stage?

The last time Barcelona was not in the knockout stages of the Champions League was back in 2004, but that’s because it failed to qualify for that tournament after finishing in sixth place in Spain’s La Liga the season before (only the top four from La Liga qualified).

You need to go back a few more years to find the last time Barcelona failed to emerge from a group stage.

MORE: Champions League top goal scorers

In 2000-01, one season after making the tournament semifinals, the Blaugrana finished in third place in Group H, suffering elimination in the first of two group stages played that season.

Barcelona missed out on qualification by one point behind second-place Leeds United (England), and three points behind group winners AC Milan (Italy). A shocking 3-0 loss to Turkish side Besiktas proved costly for Barcelona in that group stage. 

Barcelona Champions League history

Here is Barcelona’s track record in the last 30 editions of the UEFA Champions League since the revamping of the competition in 1992-93.

The Blaugrana have won the competition four times (2006, 2009, 2011, 2015), failing to even qualify for three other editions (1995-96, 1996-97, 2003-04). 

(* = two group stages played in these editions)

Edition Stage reached Eliminated by Group finish Group record

(Goals)
2021-22 Group Stage N/A 3rd (Grp. E) 2W-3L-1D

(2-9, -7)
2020-21 Round of 16 PSG (5-2 agg.) 2nd (Grp. G) 5W-1L-0D

(16-5, +11)
2019-20 Quarterfinals Bayern (8-2 agg.) 1st (Grp. F) 4W-0L-2D

(9-4, +5)
2018-19 Semifinals Liverpool (4-3 agg.) 1st (Grp. B) 4W-0L-2D

(14-5, +9)
2017-18 Quarterfinals Roma (4-4 agg.) 1st (Grp. D) 4W-0L-2D

(9-1, +8)
2016-17 Quarterfinals Juventus (3-0 agg.) 1st (Grp. C) 5W-1L-0D

(20-4, +16)
2015-16 Quarterfinals Atletico (3-2 agg.) 1st (Grp. E) 4W-0L-2D

(15-4, +11)
2014-15 Champion 1st (Grp. F) 5W-1L-0D

(15-5, +10)
2013-14 Quarterfinals Atletico (2-1 agg.) 1st (Grp. H) 4W-1L-1D

(16-5, +11)
2012-13 Semifinals Bayern (7-0 agg.) 1st (Grp. G) 4W-1L-1D

(11-5, +6)
2011-12 Semifinals Chelsea (3-2 agg.) 1st (Grp. H) 5W-0L-1D

(20-4, +16)
2010-11 Champion 1st (Grp. D) 4W-0L-2D

(14-3, +11)
2009-10 Semifinals Inter Milan (3-2 agg.) 1st (Grp. F) 3W-1L-2D

(7-3, +4)
2008-09 Champion 1st (Grp. C) 4W-1L-1D

(18-8, +10)
2007-08 Semifinals Man United (1-0 agg.) 1st (Grp. E) 4W-0L-2D

(12-3, +9)
2006-07 Round of 16 Liverpool (2-2 agg.) 2nd (Grp. A) 3W-1L-2D

(12-4, +8)
2005-06 Champion 1st (Grp. C) 5W-0L-1D

(16-2, +14)
2004-05 Round of 16 Chelsea (5-4 agg.) 2nd (Grp. F) 3W-2L-1D

(9-6, +3)
2003-04 Did Not Qualify      
2002-03 * Quarterfinals Juventus (3-2 agg.)

1st (Grp. H)


1st (Grp. A)

6W-0L-0D

(13-4, +9)


5W-0L-1D

(12-2, +10)

2001-02 * Semifinals Real Madrid (3-1 agg.)

1st (Grp. F)


1st (Grp. B)

5W-1L-0D

(12-5, +7)


2W-1L-3D

(7-7, 0)

2000-01 * Group Stage N/A 3rd (Grp. H) 2W-2L-2D

(13-9, +4)
1999-00 * Semifinals Valencia (5-3 agg.)

1st (Grp. B)


1st (Grp. A)

4W-0L-2D

(19-9, +10)


5W-0L-1D

(17-5, +12)

1998-99 Group Stage N/A 3rd (Grp. D) 2W-2L-2D

(11-9, +2)
1997-98 Group Stage N/A 4th (Grp. C) 1W-3L-2D

(7-14, -7)
1996-97 Did not qualify      
1995-96 Did not qualify      
1994-95 Quarterfinals PSG (3-2 agg.) 2nd (Grp. A) 2W-2L-2D

(11-8, +3)
1993-94 Final AC Milan (4-0) 1st (Grp. A) 4W-0L-2D

(13-3, +10)
1992-93 2nd Round CSKA Moscow (4-3 agg.) N/A N/A

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