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Xavi promises Barcelona fightback

We start from scratch. Unfortunately, we are in the Europa League, which is not the place for us.

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Oscar Mingueza (right) of Barcelona and KIngsley Coman of Bayern Munich fight for the ball in their Champions League match. Bayern won, 3-0. / CHRISTOF STACHE/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MUNICH, Germany (AFP) — Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez vowed to return the Spanish giant to the pinnacle of European football after it crashed out of the Champions League on Wednesday with a 3-0 defeat at Bayern Munich.

Five-time European champion Barca failed to reach the Last 16 of the competition for the first time in 18 years.

Goals by Thomas Mueller and Leroy Sane gave Bayern a 2-0 half-time cushion in falling snow at the Allianz Arena, which was devoid of spectators due to high numbers of Covid-19 cases in Bavaria.

Teenager Jamal Musiala grabbed Bayern’s third after the break to seal Barcelona’s fate.

“I’m angry. I don’t like that this is our reality now. We start a new era from here — to work hard and get back in the Champions League,” Xavi said.

Bayern, which also beat Barca 3-0 at the Camp Nou when the sides met in September, had already qualified for the knockout stages as Group E winners.

It now joins Liverpool and Ajax with a perfect six victories from six games in the group stage.

However, for the first time since the 2003/04 season — when it failed to qualify for the competition — Barcelona will not be in the draw for the Last 16.

Benfica’s 2-0 win at home to Dynamo Kiev means Barcelona finish third and drop into the Europa League.

It was almost eight years to the day since Bayern lost a home Champions League game in the group phase and the Bundesliga leaders were in no mood to be generous.

Xavi, 41, who took charge of struggling Barcelona four weeks ago, has now suffered back-to-back defeats after his first loss as head coach against Real Betis last weekend.

“We start from scratch. Unfortunately, we are in the Europa League, which is not the place for us,” Xavi insisted.

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